Former Paphos mayor Fidias Sarikas was jailed for four years on Friday and three former and one sitting municipal councilors got between four and five and a half years for corruption in connection with the Paphos’ sewerage system, Sapa.
Along with Sarikas, who was mayor between 1997 and 2002, were former Paphos municipal councillors Giorgos Michaelides, five and a half years, Efstathios Efstathiou, five and a half, and Vasos Vasiliou, four years, and sitting councillor Giorgos Shailis who was sentenced to four and a half years.
Sarikas went on to be elected MP with Edek in 2006. Before his indictment in 2015, he held the chairmanship of the House ethics committee.
The five faced 61 charges relating to bribes, money laundering, abuse of power, and conspiracy, but after some charges were dropped, Michaelides was found guilty on 19 charges, Sarikas on six charges, Efstathiou on 14 charges, Vasiliou on seven charges and Shailis on six charges.
The case relates to the dealings of the Paphos Sewerage Board, which is administered by the Paphos local authorities. According to investigators, kickbacks were paid out by private contractors to Sapa members in a bid to secure construction and operation waste-management contracts.
Former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, and former Sapa director Eftychios Malekides have already pleaded guilty in the same case and are currently doing a six year stretch in jail. Both were used as prosecution witnesses.
Sarikas faced charges relating to Phase I of the Sapa project.
According to the prosecution, between 1999 and 2003, while serving as Paphos mayor, Sarikas received the sum of €55,000 to arrange for Awatech, a German company bidding for Sapa contracts, to secure the job of constructing and operating the Paphos sewage treatment station. He was charged for receiving around €40,000 in kickbacks.
Shailis was charged for receiving €27,500 in bribes. According to the prosecution, he had conspired with Vergas sometime between December 2012 and January 2013 to authorise payment of a contractor’s invoices promptly, in exchange for from the contractor.
Michaelides was charged for receiving around €300,000 in kickbacks from private contractors associated with the Paphos sewerage system, while Efstathiou was charged for having been bribed with €110,000, and Vasiliou with €60,000.
Delivering the sentence on Friday, the court said it disregarded the long time from the commission of the offences because the delay had been caused by the defendants, who had acted in a conspiratorial and methodical manner.
Michaelides and Efstathiou got stiffer sentences because they had broken the law repeatedly. The highest jail term was imposed on Michaelides for money laundering after he received €134,000 in three cases. Efstathiou received €110,000 in two cases.
The defendants, the court said, failed to meet the demands of the public office they held. Health problems cannot be a reason to avoid jail, the court said, referring to the defence’s pleas for leniency.
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