Two police officers, as well as a Larnaca businessman were yesterday arrested in connection with the suspicious land deal involving Cyprus telecommunications authority CyTA.
The arrest came hours after Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou ordered that the same two officers be suspended from duty.
More arrests are set to follow, as an arrest warrant has been issued against a former policeman, according to Nicolaou.
In June, an investigative committee began probing the allegations into the manner in which the land in the Larnaca village of Dromolaxia was bought from a Turkish Cypriot and then sold, first to a Greek Cypriot businessman and then to the CyTA pension fund.
Yesterday, police moved in and arrested the officers along with well-known Larnaca businessman Nikos Lillis.
Several high-ranking CyTA officials have already resigned in the wake of the scandal while suspicions were also turned towards the Cyprus Intelligence Agency (KYP) after it emerged that a report into the residency status of Turkish Cypriot Mustafa Mustafa may have been falsified in order to get the culprits off the hook.
It is believed that the two officers – aged 40 and 53 – had falsified their findings in the KYP report.
The property in Dromolaxia had been sold to businessman and whistleblower Charalambos Liotatis for just under €10 million, and, after the land provisions were upgraded at lightning speed, was then sold on to the CyTA pension fund in 2011 for around €22 million.
The fact that CyTA had also opted to buy that specific piece of land, especially after it was established that a nearby plot was cheaper by several millions and had all the necessary provisions and deeds, also raised suspicions.
“Those two police officers were today [yesterday] suspended from duty as the investigation continues,” confirmed the justice minister.
“The investigation is on the right track and it appears that the KYP report claimed that the Turkish Cypriot was residing legally in the free areas, while he was not actually residing in the free areas during the said time,” added Nicolaou.
KYP had drafted two contradicting reports on the case – one claiming that Mustafa had never lived and worked in the free areas while a second draft stated that he did.
According to property law, a Turkish Cypriot can only sell his land in the free areas of Cyprus if he or she has worked and lived in the south for over six months.
Nicolaou added: “With regards to the ministry and the police, we have a duty to safeguard justice and to not rush headlong into announcements that could influence the case.
“We need to tread carefully so as to properly root out those responsible and bring them to justice.”