Lolly: ‘Louca’s arrest illegal’

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ST George INLSA George Louca

SHAIN GERMANER

Limassol, Cyprus

CYPRIOT police had insisted that alleged hitman George Louca would not be granted bail, but he went forth and applied nonetheless.

The application was denied yesterday morning after a judge declared his alleged crimes too serious to ignore.

Louca, in a striped pink T-shirt and faded grey jeans, faced Judge Elena Ephraim yesterday morning while his defence argued that the information for his extradition was unsubstantiated and that, as a family man and Cypriot citizen, he should be released.

Louca – the alleged killer of strip king Lolly Jackson – has been in custody for a week at Nicosia Central Prison, more than 50km away from where he was arrested at his home in Limassol.

The few images of the man made available to the media before the case were of an unkempt but cheery-looking Louca.

In court yesterday morning he sported a clean-shaven face but had dark rings under his eyes and a look of hopelessness.

Louca’s lawyer, Sofronios Sofroniou, insisted on applying for bail and made a passionate plea that his client was a father-of-four and a dutiful husband, and there was little chance that he would flee the country.

The lawyer produced four Cypriot identity documents carrying images of Louca as a young man until today. Sofroniou described him as an upstanding citizen who had never been accused of a crime in his native Cyprus.

He also claimed Louca had returned to Cyprus simply to live with his family and added that the application for his arrest was entirely illegal.

The defence said SA’s application had not gone through the correct channels and that an agreement between Interpol, the Cypriot police and the SAPS was not enough. The application should have gone through the Cypriot ministry of justice, they maintained.

Sofroniou also brought up the fact that police had been interested in filing for an extradition application only two years after the murder had been committed, and that his client should not have to suffer while the prosecution in SA and internationally produce their case.

Louca’s wife Stella stayed only for the first half of the proceedings, with other members of the family saying she had to return to work. She had also left to avoid any media questions.

Judge Ephraim ruled yesterday that the seriousness of the crime could not be ignored and that police – from SA and internationally – had in fact approached the Republic of Cyprus and the Ministry of Justice on January 25 this year to file an extradition order.

She said the arrest was legal – at least until proof of its illegality could be provided during the extradition hearing.

The hearing could not continue yesterday as the extradition order, sent through by the SA police, was in the incorrect format.

The case was adjourned until April 9.

Jackson was shot six times at a home in Kempton Park on May 3, 2010. Since his death, several other men linked to SA’s underworld have been killed.


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