Senior members of Cypriot communist party arrested

Police in Cyprus arrested two senior members of the island’s influential communist AKEL party on Wednesday in a graft inquiry into a suspect property deal by the state telecoms authority.

The party decried the arrests as a politically motivated witch-hunt.

“We support our comrades, who are honest and flawless in character,” said AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou.

Authorities are investigating why the pension fund of telecoms company Cyta acquired real estate at an inflated price from the chairman of a local first-division soccer club, who also made allegedly suspect cash transfers to the then-ruling AKEL party.

That individual, who is already in custody, is alleged to have paid AKEL to facilitate the deal in 2011.

His company had bought the property for a reported 1.5 million euros, then sold it on to Cyta for 20 million euros.

Two of three individuals arrested yesterday used to hold senior posts in AKEL; one was its finance chief and the second the local party chief.