News Local Man facing drug charges must stay in prison despite Covid-19 fears

Man facing drug charges must stay in prison despite Covid-19 fears

A man charged with possession of 36 kilos of cannabis with intent to supply will remain in custody pending trial after the Supreme Court rejected his application to be released because he feared contracting coronavirus in prison.

The criminal court had on November 29 last year set the trial to start on May 6 and ordered the defendant to remain in custody until then saying the man was a flight risk.

Once charged, defendants ordered by the court to remain in custody are taken to Nicosia Central Prison.

The defendant has pleaded not guilty to the drug charges. Police had found the cannabis hidden in his warehouse.

He appealed saying he belonged to a vulnerable group and remaining in prison posed particular health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

He also argued that since airports, ports and the checkpoints are closed as part of the lockdown there was no danger of him not appearing in court.

The Supreme Court rejected his appeal saying that in view of the seriousness of the offences, there was a risk of him not appearing in court.

On the health issue, it said the prison authorities should take all necessary measures to protect his health.

As regards the closure of the airports, it noted that these are currently in force until April 30 — before the start of his trial — and it was unknown whether they will be extended.

Moreover, even though the checkpoints are closed, it was possible the defendant could cross into the Turkish occupied area from somewhere along the Green Line.

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