The Misdemeanours Court Justices Council on Thursday ordered the release of eight prisoners, including the prominent owner of a chain of pawn shops, who were being held on remand for exporting gold to Turkey. They had been jailed on remand before the examining magistrate handling the case was informed by the competent customs authorities that those exporting gold to Turkey cannot be charged with smuggling.
According to sources, the council ordered the pawn-shop chain owner and his alleged second-in-command, a Turkish national of Syrian descent, to post 200,000 euros in bail and not leave the country, while they will also have to report to a police station once a month. Both will have to post the full amount of jail in order to be released from prison.
For the remaining six remand prisoners, the court ordered conditional release with restrictions but no bail.
The Council found that the eight, while they could not be accused of illegally exporting gold to Turkey due to customs union, might be guilty of exporting “contraband”, accepting the arguments put forward by public prosecutor Katerina Tsironi “that there are serious indications that they are guilty of criminal actions”.
Based on the Council’s opinion, the provenance of the articles handled by the two groups involved in the case must now be demonstrated, since none of the eight had clarified whether “the confiscated items had come from abroad, an EU or third country, or were the result of the activities of the pawn shop business and whether they correspond to the quantities of gold and other precious metals and objects collected through the specific business activity, cases for which VAT is owed without evidence that this has been paid.”
Both the prosecutor and justices noted that no tax documentation outlining the origins of the items confiscated has been produced, nor proof that due taxes and tariffs have been paid, “with the result that they can be considered contraband.”
According to Tsironi, there are strong indications that the accused bought illegal imported gold from unknown sources that they then illegally traded, knowing that it had been smuggled into the country.