LARNACA - The launch of a trial of two men accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls was adjourned on Friday due to the withdrawal of one of the defendant’s lawyers.
During the brief hearing at Larnaca Criminal Court defendant Nicos Nicolaou, 35, announced that his defence lawyer was no longer representing him and requested additional time for his new lawyer to return to Cyprus from abroad and take over the case.
Assizes President Nicos Santis accepted the request and set the June 4 as the new date on which the defendants will answer to the charges they face.
He told Nicolaou to instruct his new lawyer to thoroughly examine the charge sheet and ordered that both men remain in custody.
Nicolaou and well-known Larnaca businessman Akis Lefkaritis, 57, have been in custody since May 1 following their arrests on suspicion of sexually assaulting two girls aged 14 and 15.
The police investigation was launched after the 15-year-old reported that Nicolaou, whom she claims to have met on a social networking site, raped her in his flat in the capital in late April. She claims that along with the 14-year-old girl she was held against her will, beaten and sexually assaulted. According to her testimony, both girls were driven to a flat in Larnaca on the same day where they were subjected to a second assault which the 57-year-old also took part in.
According to the police investigation, the suspects began sexually exploiting the 14-year-old victim during the summer of 2012 while the 15-year-old was subjected to a series of sex assaults by the men between April 26 and 28 this year.
Lefkaritis faces nine charges including sexual exploitation of a minor and conspiracy to commit a crime. Nicolaou faces 21 counts including sexual exploitation of a minor, kidnap, and exploitation of a prostitute.