NEWS

Three held over publisher hit

Police on Cyprus yesterday were questioning three local residents in connection with the gangland-style execution on Monday night of the prominent publisher Andy Hadjicostis. The three men – aged 30, 33 and 37 – are all believed to be members of the country’s main organized crime racket. One is believed to have arranged the hit on the 41-year-old publisher and the other two to have carried it out, while police are seeking a fourth suspect believed to have ordered the killing. Of the three suspects under investigation, one was interviewed in a private clinic where he is reportedly receiving treatment for injuries suffered in a bomb attack against him last December. A search of the suspects’ homes turned up two guns, neither of which was the double-barreled sawn-off shotgun used in the attack. Police working on the case have been examining footage from surveillance cameras of embassies and other buildings located in the upmarket area of central Nicosia where the execution was carried out. The footage reportedly shows two figures on a motorcycle, both wearing helmets. Following interviews with the three suspects and with other people linked to the Cypriot mafia, police sources yesterday reiterated that a financial dispute was the likeliest motive behind the killing. Police are reportedly investigating the possible involvement of two shareholders of the private television channel Sigma owned by Hadjicostis; one of these is a woman believed to hold a large stake in the channel; the other is a man currently in a Cypriot jail. A spokesman for the Cypriot police yesterday sought to douse media speculation and on blogs that Hadjicostis’s political beliefs had provoked the attack. «The motive behind the murder is certainly not political. We have focused our investigation on the other possible scenarios and we are optimistic that we will have developments soon,» police spokesperson Michalis Katsounotos said. Hadjicostis’s media group had criticized a United Nations blueprint for the reunification of the divided island. The plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots in 2004 but some on the island fear attempts to resurrect it.