Did TV star Elena Skordelli murder the man who sacked her?

With its hit-men, sibling loyalty and business rivalry, the court case that opens in Cyprus tomorrow is worthy of any soap opera

Sigma TV, the second-most-watched channel in Cyprus, is known for its lurid soap operas and equally lurid approach to the news. In a plot-line to fulfil the channel's wildest fictional, and non-fictional, dreams, a glamorous blonde television presenter is due to go on trial in Cyprus tomorrow accused of plotting the murder of the boss who sacked her. Unfortunately for Sigma, the victim was the channel's own boss, the media tycoon Andis Hadjicostis, 43.

The couple accused of ordering his shooting includes one of the most celebrated people in Cyprus, Sigma's former lifestyle and news presenter Elena Skordelli, 42. The second alleged mastermind is her brother, Tassos Krasopoulos, 37.

Personal hatred and revenge for Ms Skordelli's sacking from the TV channel last year is said by the prosecution to be just one of the reasons for their alleged crime. Investigators also believe that there was a commercial motive. The brother and sister already owned 20 per cent of the shares of Sigma's parent company, Dias. They are alleged to have tried to buy up a majority of the company in the days after Mr Hadjicostis was gunned down outside his home in Nicosia last month.

At first, the murder was thought to have been political. Through his media group, the dead man was one of the most influential opponents of the UN-sponsored talks to unite the Greek and Turkish parts of Cyprus, which have been divided since 1974. Bullet casings identified as coming from the Turkish-controlled north of the island were found near the scene of the crime.

Rumours are still swirling on the island of a hidden political dimension to the murder. Prosecutors are expected to dismiss these reports when the trial, originally due to open yesterday, starts in Nicosia tomorrow. The city's police chief, Michalis Papageorgiou, said in a television interview that he was convinced that the four people under arrest – and an alleged hit-man who fled the country – were solely responsible for the murder.

Political motives had been ruled out "beyond any reasonable doubt", he said. It remains unclear whether the "Turkish" bullets were planted to divert suspicion or were misidentified. The trial was delayed for two days yesterday so that one of the defendants – who had blown himself up with a bomb three weeks before the murder – could receive further hospital treatment.

Mr Hadjicostis was shot outside his house in the up-market Engomi district of Nicosia as he returned from work at 8.45pm on Monday 11 January. Closed-circuit TV footage, examined by police, shows two men fleeing the scene on a motorcycle. One of them was identified as Theophanis Hadjigeorgiou, 30.

Mr Hadjigeorgiou was arrested several days later. He told police that he and Andreas Gregoriou, 33, had been employed by Ms Skordelli and her brother to kill the media tycoon in exchange for money and future employment at the Sigma television station. Mr Hadjigeorgiou said that Mr Gregoriou had helped to plan the killing but was seriously injured in an apparently unconnected bomb explosion in December.

He named Gregoris Xenofontos, 29, as the replacement hit-man. Mr Xenofontos has since fled the country and is believed to be in Moldova. According to leaked copies of witness statements, Mr Hadjigeorgiou said that he met Ms Skordelli at her brother's house. He said that he and Mr Gregoriou, were offered €50,000 (£43,000) and jobs for life at Sigma. Ms Skordelli allegedly declared: "I want this man dead."

In another scene worthy of a daytime soap script, Ms Skordelli's sister was arrested after she turned up at a remand hearing held in the Nicosia hospital. She allegedly ran her finger across her throat while glaring at Mr Hadjigeorgiou and mimed to Mr Gregoriou to keep his mouth shut by sewing pretend stitches in her lips. She has been charged with threatening violence and attempting to influence witnesses.

Elena Skordelli began as daytime lifestyle presenter on the Sigma channel before working her way up – to the surprise of many colleagues – to prime-time jobs as a chat-show host and news presenter. Since she was fired last year, she has worked at another channel, Plus TV. Before her arrest, rumours circulated on Cypriot blogs and websites pointing to her as a possible culprit. She ordered her lawyer to sue anyone "responsible for all the slanderous and malicious publicity, which has been carried out at my expense". In a statement, she denied that she had any connections with the "detestable and hideous" murder of "dearest Andy". She said that she had been the victim of an "orgy of sycophantic and defamatory whisperings".

During remand hearings, Ms Skordelli, who is married with two sons, appeared wearing designer sunglasses and clutching a Louis Vuitton handbag. She looked haggard and bewildered. The prosecution told the court that "the two siblings wanted the elimination of Andis Hadjicostis because, despite paying a large amount of money and being big shareholders in the television station, she was ousted and they considered the victim culpable".

The state prosecutor, Savvas Matsa, told the press last week: "It was a revenge killing, motivated by her dismissal and interconnected with her desire to buy more shares in the company. If found guilty of murder there can be only one sentence: life imprisonment."

Television colleagues said there had been great surprise when Ms Skordelli was promoted to news jobs at Sigma. "She was so obviously out of her depth," said one journalist, "you just felt sorry for her."

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

NQT and Experienced Primary Teachers Urgently required

£90 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: NQT and Experienced Primary Teac...

Year 1 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Year 1 Primary Supply Teachers needed for...

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: EY/KS1 Qualified Teaching Assistant J...

Qualified and unqualified nursery assistants

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified and unquali...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album