Former parliament president, 3 others to stand trial for Cyprus' passports scandal

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NICOSIA, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Former president of Cyprus' parliament Demetris Syllouris, a former member of parliament and two lawyers will stand trial next month for alleged involvement in a high-profile scandal related to the now discontinued "investments in exchange for passports" program, a court ordered on Monday.

The four, summoned before a three-member criminal court in Nicosia on Monday, would face five charges including conspiracy to defraud Cyprus and influencing a public official in violation of an international convention of the Council of Europe against corruption.

The charges were related to an undercover report aired by the Al Jazeera network in August 2020, which showed the suspects discussing ways to defraud authorities to secure a Cypriot passport for a purported foreign investor with a criminal record in his country of origin.

The Court decided the four will face a criminal trial on Oct. 26.

Syllouris and the parliamentary deputy were forced to resign following the undercover report, which claimed that Cyprus had been granting citizenships to dubious individuals. The claim was subsequently corroborated by a criminal investigation commission and the Audit Service, an independent service of the state.

The Cypriot government said last month that it had started the process of revoking 52 passports issued to foreign investors on the grounds that they concealed vital details about themselves.

According to data released by the Ministry of Interior, a total of 6,799 Cypriot citizenships were granted under the investment program, about half of them to family members of the actual investors. The Audit Service claimed that the passports granted to the family members of investors had been issued unlawfully. Enditem

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