NICOSIA – Former interior minister Dinos Michaelides will be extradited to Greece to face corruption charges in the Akis Tsochatzopoulos trial after losing his appeal at the Supreme Court on Monday.
Last week, Michaelides’ defence team appealed a Limassol District Judge’s decision to uphold an extradition request from Greece. The former minister is currently being held at Nicosia Central Prison and is now set to be flown to Greece within the next ten days.
A Supreme Court decision had dismissed all the claims of Michaelides’ defence team which included a violation of his human rights as well as a political and media campaign to have the constitution amended just so he can be extradited.
Michaelides and his son Michalis are said by Greek investigators to have used a joint bank account to move around millions of euros – believed to be kick-backs in the purchase of weapons - at the behest of Greek former defence minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos from middlemen and arms dealers.
Two weeks ago, Michaelides was transferred to Nicosia Central Prison from Nicosia General Hospital after complaining of feeling faint and chest pains upon being informed by the Limassol court that his extradition order had been upheld.
Tsochatzopoulos and another 18 people are currently on trial in one of the biggest corruption cases in Greek legal history in which he is charged with operating a money-laundering scheme and stealing untold scores of millions of euros from contracts.
Last month, the most damning evidence yet against Tsochatzopoulos was given at his trial by his cousin Nicos Zigras in which he accused him of accepting bribes for the purchase of a Russian missile system and German-made submarines. Zigras added that this money was laundered through offshore companies that were created specifically for this purpose.
His son Michalis will discover if he too will be extradited to Greece in a separate hearing at Limassol District Court on September 4.
Michaelides’ stint as interior minister of Cyprus coincided with Tsochatzopoulos’ term as defence minister between 1996 and 2001.