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Abvakum case: Archimandrite Nektarios on holiday is under 8-day detention

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Υπoθεση Αββα&kappa οπεεεεαε ;χιμανδρΙτης Νεκταριος

The District Court of Nicosia issued on Tuesday an eight-day detention order against the Archimandrite and abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Avvakum, on holiday, Nektarios, who was arrested in connection with the case of the safe, which was found on the grounds of the Monastery and contained the sum of € 807,000.

In his decision, the judge Charalambos Satsias stated that this is a "enormous dimension" case, with particular complexity and complexity. He said the delay alone cannot lead to a conclusion that the Police acted abusively.

"There is no indication or suspicion of abuse or ulterior motives,'' he noted.

He said that the testimony has revealed the existence of a reasonable suspicion of the commission of the offenses for which the detention is requested, noting that it is not necessary at this stage to prove the commission of the offenses.

Furthermore, he stated that there is the testimony that creates reasonable suspicion of connection of the suspect with the crimes under investigation.

He also said that the investigative work has not yet been completed and that the Police have so far received 80 statements and 63 more statements are expected to be received, while they will also take other actions.

"I am satisfied. that the detention of the suspect is necessary for the completion of the investigative work and that in the event of his dismissal it may affect witnesses”, he noted, stating that the remaining investigative work justifies the detention for 8 days.

The Archimandrite on leave is charged with offenses related to conspiracy to commit racketeering, theft by proxy, money laundering, obtaining money by false representation, forgery, theft, false tax return, tax offenses and others.

Pursuant to a court warrant, he was arrested at 09:52 am on Tuesday morning and the Police requested his detention for 8 days, to facilitate the completion of the investigative work.

The detention request was submitted by the investigative team investigating the complaints of Metropolitan Tamasos Isaias and was based on the allegation that the suspect is susceptible to influencing witnesses.

In addition, the timing of the request was justified by the fact that new evidence emerged after the receipt of the report by the Tax Department on Friday, which was studied over the weekend by the Police, as a result of which an arrest warrant was requested on Monday and the suspect was arrested on Tuesday.

In the first part of the proceedings, which began at 12.30pm, a 44-page written affidavit was submitted by a Constable, submitting the request to be detained for eight days.

As he said, in the last few days new information and data emerged, while on Friday the report of the Tax Department on the case was also received. He noted that in view of the above and the fact that new evidence has emerged for other crimes, for which other persons will be questioned, which the suspect will influence, the suspect's personal detention is requested.

His defense lawyers on Archimandrite's holiday, Andriana Klaidis and Nikolaos Koulouris, expressed their intention to file an objection to the detention request. However, they requested a one-day adjournment of the proceedings due to the volume of material and the affidavit.

The judge finally granted a request by the defense lawyers for a two-hour recess, in order to investigate the claim that the suspect tried to approach witnesses.

The proceedings continued at 2.30pm, with the Constable being cross-examined by the lawyers of the Archimandrite holiday.

During the cross-examination, the suspect's lawyers focused on whether the allegation that the suspect can influence witnesses is true, what new information has emerged in the last few days that would justify the detention and whether the Police intend to conduct the 60 statements they are requesting for the case within the eight days that the personal detention will be valid.

Mrs. Klaidis argued that the request for personal detention is not genuine and is abusive. He argued that the offenses for which further investigation is requested are the same as those submitted during the Police affidavit for the request to freeze the suspect's property, on April 5.

At the same time, he stated that a series of complaints and offences, which are mentioned in the Constable's affidavit, had been known to the Police since March and questioned why it did not proceed earlier to collect statements or make an arrest.

He further argued that there is no evidence of influence peddling, but the examples cited in the affidavit are police speculation. "There is no possibility of my client influencing any witnesses. “All the testimony is already in your possession and most of the testimony is in state apparatuses like the Tax Department, which cannot be influenced in any way,” he said.

Regarding tax crimes, he said that the suspect submitted his pending tax returns, while he asked the Constable if he has any testimony as to whether the suspect is the VAT subject for the Monastery.

He also claimed that the Constable is presenting the case selectively to create impressions in court.

He noted that the Police deliberately did not interrogate witnesses in the previous period, in order to be able to justify their request for the pre-trial detention of the suspect.

"You have taken advantage of my client, you have let enough time pass, three and a half months, and you are now clearly belatedly asking for a warrant for my client's arrest and today a remand. The practice applied by the Police to investigate one aspect of the case by one team and other aspects gained advantages at the expense of our clients”, noted Mrs. Klaidis.

In response, the Constable said that "not arrest is an end in itself. Alas if on every suspicion I apprehended every one. We now have a solid base of facts. Now we have collected evidence about which he should be questioned and some other people should be questioned, which he affects, as shown by specific examples,'' he said, referring to three such examples in his sworn statement.

He added that the Police do not act abusively and for the purposes of sensationalism, while he said that "there is a serious risk" to influence witnesses, as based on the evidence it is "prone to influence".

Regarding the tax offences, he said that according to the report of the Tax Department, there is an undeclared amount in excess of €1,330,000 that came from the sales of the pastry shop operated by the Monastery. In addition, there are undeclared amounts related to the construction of the Monastery. From these arise outstanding matters regarding VAT, he said, and it does not matter if the suspect has submitted his tax returns.

Furthermore, he clarified that the specific investigation started from the Metropolitan's complaint. "We mainly investigate crimes of a financial nature. The complaints of the suspect and other persons are being investigated by another team and there is also a third team investigating other types of complaints,” he noted, clarifying that aspects of the same case are not being examined by other teams.

Asked about this, the Constable submitted to the court a list of the people whom the Police intends to interrogate in the next period.

According to what the judge read, statements will be taken from 13 people from his close circle of friends and family, which are judged to influence the suspect. In addition, depositions will be taken from 31 persons, which include both natural and legal persons. Also, the document states that statements will be taken from other complainants who were deceived, speaking of 14 more names.

For her part, the accusing Authority, Antigoni Michael, objected to the series of questions aimed at prove that any influence of the witnesses by the suspect does not apply, saying that according to the jurisprudence the suspicion of influence is sufficient and it does not need to be proven.

During her plea, the public prosecutor stated that all the conditions for its issuance are met for the detention order. He noted that as evidenced by the testimony, the investigation into the case began in March 2024. The case is very serious and involves various offenses and incidents.

"The Police's goal from the beginning was not to arrest and detain the suspect, and this is also evident from the Police's actions. “There was from the first moment a continuous use of time, as she gathered evidence and testimonies and did not abuse the powers granted to her by law, every time an offense arose to request an arrest warrant and a personal detention warrant,” he said.

On the contrary, he said, once he received and studied the preliminary report of the Department of Taxation, then it was deemed necessary to submit them to the court in order to issue an arrest warrant and a request for a detention order for the suspect.

He noted that the report from the Dept. Taxation was the point where it became clear that there was an image of ef’ of all the material so that the Police can interrogate the suspect for all crimes.

There is outstanding investigative work. The difference is that now there is a risk of influencing the witnesses, he added, stating that now there is also a comprehensive picture for questioning the suspect and the questioning will not be piecemeal.

He reiterated that the Police are not required to prove influence, but to show that there is a reasonably estimated risk of influence, something that I "think exists".

He noted that more than 60 interrogations will be conducted and this justifies the days of detention requested by the Police.

For her part, the defense lawyer, Adriana Klaidis, in her own statement, said that "our position is that the request of the Police should be rejected». He mentioned that the tax offences, which are the new offenses revealed on 14/6, the witness said that it is not customary to remand any person for offenses involving the violation of Value Added Tax or other tax offences.

He further said that in relation to this aspect, the investigative work of the Police cannot be affected, evidence cannot be destroyed and an employee of the Tax Department cannot be influenced.

In relation to the earlier offenses under investigation, he stated that the Police admitted that these started on 8/3/24. Therefore "there is a deliberate failure to appear in court to secure the client's pre-trial detention was in the possession of the Police earlier.

He noted that one of the principles of jurisprudence is that the Police bear the burden of proving that there is evidence that the offenses were committed. Ms Clydis said there was no evidence as the Constable did not know who was responsible for VAT and was speculating. He also referred to offenses for which there is still an investigation as to whether they have been committed and detention is not justified.

"The case against our client is not bona fide and genuine. There is fragmentation by the Police to gain an unfair advantage against our client, he said.

He added that the Police request is for "alien purposes".

The charges he is charged with

1) Conspiracy to Embezzlement

2) Theft by Agent

3) Money Laundering

4)  Securing money by misrepresentation

5)  Forgery

6) Circulation of forged document

7)  Theft &  Illegal Possession of Property, which were committed between 2020 – 5/3/2024, in Nicosia District

8)  False tax declaration, committed in the years 2020, 2021, 2022, in Nicosia

9)  Interference in Judicial proceedings, committed on 10/4/2024, in Limassol and on 26/4/2024, in the province of Famagusta and

10) Tax Offenses in violation of the Value Added Tax Law of 2000, as amended, i.e.: a) Fraudulent VAT avoidance, B) Fraudulently securing a VAT refund, c) Submitting false declarations to the VAT, d) Conduct that entails the commission of an offense , e) Complicity in the avoidance of VAT payment, f) Failure to submit a Tax Declaration on time and g) Failure to issue a legal receipt, which were committed between 1/8/2021-31/12/2023, in Nicosia.

Read also: The marathon procedure for the personal reservation of Nektarios has been completed

Source: www.sigmalive.com

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