Panayiotou is a flight risk, says prosecution – As it happened

2015-05-26 16:30

“There is no extradition treaty in place between South Africa and Cyprus," prosecutor Marius Stander told the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court during a bail hearing for murder-accused Christopher Panayiotou.


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Last Updated at 18:10
26 May 16:29

The case will resume at 09:00 on Wednesday. Court has adjourned.

Panayiotou makes a hasty exit to the holding cells in order to make his way back to prison, reports News24’s Derrick Spies.

26 May 16:27

Beeton has raised her concerns, highlighted in the delay in starting at 14:00.

She says they have run out of court time and that Panayiotou needs to be transported back to St Albans.

26 May 16:26
At this point, Magistrate Beeton calls a stop to proceedings.

26 May 16:24
Stander: “On the evidence submitted, the court has made a strong case that Christopher Panayiotou is a flight risk.”

26 May 16:23
There is no extradition treaty in place between South Africa and Cyprus, Stander points out.

26 May 16:21
Stander concedes but points out that the passport was issued just six weeks before the murder.

26 May 16:21

Stander says that the information once again points out that all travel was done on a South African passport and suddenly he has requested a Cypriot passport.

Price raises objection. Price points out again that there is no evidence that Panayiotou has received the passport.

26 May 16:19

26 May 16:18

Stander says he is not someone to hold it against someone who has travelled overseas.

He says the reason for introducing the international flight details was to show that the accused is used to travelling internationally over a 15-year period.

26 May 16:18

Stander says the court wants to know whether he has the ability to travel abroad, yet it gets decided that it is not relevant.

26 May 16:16
Panayiotou, Stander says, was advised by his attorneys that the issue of his passport application was irrelevant to his bail application.

26 May 16:13

Stander states that in the replying affidavit from Christopher Panayiotou, it is clear that the application for the Cypriot passport was discussed.

But because it was not known that the passport had not been issued, it somehow wasn’t disclosed.

Stander says he has a serious problem with that.

26 May 16:10
The fact that the court cannot make an order against another sovereign state is important, Stander says.

26 May 16:09

Stander returns to the point that Panayiotou’s claim that he has no place to go outside of South Africa is a lot different to ‘my father has a house in Cyprus and I have family there’.

That begs the question: why not play open cards with the court?

26 May 16:06
Stander says that unfair criticism has been launched at the investigating officer. He says that the expectation of a harsh sentence could result in the possibility that he could abscond.

26 May 16:05
Stander says that if the defence wants to show that the State does not have a strong case, it needs to show that, on the balance of probabilities, the accused would be acquitted.

26 May 16:05
The State ultimately argues that Christopher Panayiotou has not shown exceptional circumstances for granting bail, and is a flight risk.

26 May 16:01

Stander says that  a release on bail will not be in the interest of justice.

He says that the two arguments against bail are 1) that the accused will try to evade his trial, and 2) that he will attempt to influence witnesses.

26 May 15:58

Stander asks why Panayiotou never mentioned to the court that he has dual citizenship and had family in Cyprus.

He asks how difficult was it for Panayiotou to inform the court?

26 May 15:57
Stander is now addressing the issue of family ties. He says at no stage did the State ever allege that Panayiotou is a ‘globetrotter’, but it did highlight that he is someone who is familiar with travelling overseas.

26 May 15:57
Stander says Panayiotou is in the same position as many others who have been detained. He will suffer financial loss but there are others who can assist.

26 May 15:55
Stander also argues that he would find it very hard to believe that if Panayiotou’s father, who owns a 45% share holding in the business, would allow the business to go under due to the unavailability of a shareholder who only owns 10%.

26 May 15:51

Stander says the arguments raised by the accused against the general conditions of prison cells relate to the conditions of communal cells.

Panayiotou, however, is in a single cell.

26 May 15:50
Stander says the exceptional circumstances that Panayiotou has cited for wanting bail include the conditions at St Albans, the fact that he has a 10% share in OK, and that 60 people stand to lose their jobs and that he has strong family ties.

26 May 15:48

26 May 15:45

Stander is now addressing the issue of ‘exceptional circumstances’ in a bail hearing, highlighting a legal extract that points out that one cannot define exceptional circumstances.

He adds, however, that Christopher Panayiotou would argue exceptional circumstances for his release.

26 May 15:45

Stander submits his heads of argument and apologises should there be any spelling errors. Said he could not guarantee the spelling accuracy due to loadshedding.

Stander recognises that Price had complained that the investigating officer’s affidavit was not numbered, and has made sure his heads of argument are numbered.

26 May 15:38

Beeton asks for elaboration on the process. Stander says he is not ready to make the details public until Siyoli's next appearance on June 19.

He says that it would, however, be some sort of plea arrangement.

26 May 15:38

Stander also points out that accused number 1, Siyoli, has had legal representation from the start.

He says that at no point has it been said that the three accused will be trialled together.

Stander says that it has been made clear that there is a process taking place between Siyoli and the State, with his legal representation present.

26 May 15:35

Stander says he wants to address a few other loose ends and points out that accused number 3, Vumazonke, has not made any statement.

He says that perhaps a statement was made in another matter but neither he nor the investigating officer has any statement from Vumazonke.

26 May 15:35
He points out that there is no link between the application forms and the passport that has been issued, and that in the time that has transpired that is the best he can submit to the court at this time.

26 May 15:34
Stander says the prosecution wanted to use cellphone records to see if the accused was informed that his passport was ready for collection.

26 May 15:30
Stander says all he can confirm to the court was that in February 2013, an application for a Cyprian passport was made but that he cannot confirm that it is the same passport.

26 May 15:28

He says he will take the word of Price and Griebenow if they inform him that they have spoken to the Cyprus embassy and if they confirm that the passport is in the embassy's possession.

Stander points out that nobody else is able to take possession of the passport. It will only be handed to Christopher Panayiotou.

Magistrate Beeton asks why it took more than 2 years for the passport to be issued? Stander says he has no idea.

26 May 15:27

26 May 15:25
Stander says that as he stands in court today, they are trying their level best to confirm that the passport is still with the Cyprus embassy.

26 May 15:23
Beeton to Stander: All I want to know is, did the accused apply for a Cypriot passport two years ago, or recently?

26 May 15:22
Magistrate Beeton points out that Price raised the issue, by making a statement that the court could make an order on Panayiotou to hand over his passport.

26 May 15:20

Stander stresses that the information was given through official channels. He points out that all the accused had to do was tell the State he has dual citizenship.

Why did Panayiotou tell the court that all his travel documents were handed over, but he did not tell the court he had applied [for a Cypriot passport]?

26 May 15:17

Stander points out that there is a complex process that is involved. It is not a case of the investigating officer just picking up the phone and speaking to the embassy in Pretoria.

He says that when correct procedures were followed, the response was that Panayiotou has a Cypriot ID and that he is a holder of a Cypriot passport.

26 May 15:16

Prosecutor Marius Stander hits back, reports eNCA’s Karyn Maughan.

All Christopher Panayiotou had to do was to tell us that he'd applied for a Cypriot passport. He didn't, Stander says.

26 May 15:09

Price says that had this been true, he and Griebenow would have no option but to withdraw their application for bail and Panayiotou should remain in custody. But, he says, this is not true.

He says that the flagrant attempt by the State to blind the court should be considered and his client should be given bail.

He concludes and prosecutor Stander stands up.

26 May 15:07

Price also points out that the affidavits submitted by the investigating officer states his client applied for and "obtained" the Cypriot passport.

Price says that this is a flagrant lie submitted to the court to convince the court that Panayiotou is a flight risk.

Price says his client applied for a Cypriot passport as far back as 2013.

26 May 15:07

Price points out that the State blatantly tried to deceive the court by stating that Panayiotou has a Cypriot passport.

He says this is blatantly not true.

26 May 15:05

Price concludes that the court finds the State’s ‘exceptional circumstances’ as flagrant, transparent attempts to mislead the court.

Price argues that the State is desperate in its attempt to keep Panayiotou in custody.

26 May 15:04
Price indicates that while exceptional circumstances do allow for consideration of public opinion, the court should not be swayed by people like the person who came to court with the hangman's noose.

26 May 15:02

26 May 14:59
There is no evidence to destroy, says Price.

26 May 14:57

Price has asked the State to be clear on which witnesses they are afraid the accused would interfere with.

They will then give them their undertaking not to interfere with said witnesses.

26 May 14:56

Price is now raising issues relating to the charges of defeating the ends of justice, suggesting his client gave instructions to Siyoli to destroy his cellphone and that he wiped his phone.

Price asks, “Who would Panayiotou interfere with? Can you imagine Panayiotou tying to take on Swanepoel?"

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