Akkelidou fined for interfering with trial

NICOSIA (AFP) – Cyprus’s former health minister Dina Akkelidou escaped a prison term yesterday but was fined 1,000 pounds (1,726 euros) for perverting the course of justice by writing to a judge to keep a drug suspect out of jail. A Nicosia court found Akkelidou, 48, guilty last Friday, and she almost immediately handed in her resignation to President Tassos Papadopoulos. She became the first serving Cypriot minister to be convicted. Akkelidou denied two counts of intent and trying to influence court procedures but judge Nicolaos Santis found her guilty of interfering with the course of justice, charges which carry a maximum three-year jail term. In passing sentence yesterday, Santis opted for a fine as punishment, taking into account Akkelidou’s good character, previous clean criminal record, and the fact she recognized her mistake and had acted out of «altruistic motives.»