Panayiotou Trial: Rights of accused ‘trashed’

Christopher Panayiotou
File picture: Eugene Coetzee

Christopher Panayiotou’s lawyers have accused the state of coming to court with filthy hands after the police “trashed” the murder accused’s right to a fair trial.

Calling much of the testimony presented by the prosecution in the trialwithin-a-trial irrelevant or of a poor quality, the defence wants Judge Dayalin Chetty to disregard a secret video recording in which Panayiotou allegedly implicated himself in his wife’s murder.

Advocate Terry Price SC said in his heads of argument filed with the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday that he would have expected the experienced police officers who dealt with the murder investigation to have done everything properly and legally, bearing in mind that the onus was on the state to prove the admissibility of the recording.

Instead, there were claims of lost police diaries, incorrect cell register entries and a claim by self-confessed middleman Luthando Siyoni that he was assaulted and forced to implicate his former boss.

Chetty is expected to make his ruling on Monday on whether to allow the sting video into evidence.

It is alleged that Panayiotou, 30, hired Siyoni to find hitmen to kidnap and kill Jayde on April 21 2015.

While Siyoni initially admitted to his role in the alleged hit, he has since recanted on his confession.

Price said in his latest papers before the court that Siyoni was unlawfully removed from his workplace and taken to a remote police station in KwaNobuhle.

There, he said, police unlawfully questioned, threatened and assaulted him.

Then they took him 210km away to Fort Beaufort early in the morning to make a confession.

Price said the quality of the state’s evidence was poor and mostly mendacious, in comparison with the honesty, of the defence’s witnesses.

Price accused investigating officer Captain Kanna Swanepoel of dishonesty, and of deliberately falsifying documents to bolster the state’s case.

He called Swanepoel’s demeanour in court arrogant and bombastic.

“The determination therefore of the admissibility or otherwise of what happened in the vehicle at Algoa Park Steers must be determined largely on the manner in which the evidence was obtained through Siyoni,” Price said.

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