Cypriot minister pays bail ahead of her trial

NICOSIA (AFP) – Cypriot Health Minister Dina Akkelidou was freed on bail yesterday after pleading not guilty to charges of perverting the course of justice by writing to a judge to prevent a drug suspect from being jailed. Akkelidou appeared before a Nicosia district court and denied two counts of intent and trying to influence court procedures, charges which can carry a maximum three-year prison term. After a 30-minute hearing, the court released her on 2,000 Cypriot pounds (3,470 euros) bail and adjourned the case until November 19. Akkelidou, the only woman minister in the Cabinet, wrote a letter to a judge trying a drugs case to seek leniency for a defendant accused of dealing. The letter was made public in September. She has apologized for her «mistake» saying it was a «totally innocent» act to help the drug suspect remain in rehabilitation.