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Larnaca man sues for €10 million over porn trial

By Alexia Saoulli

(archive article - Friday, September 12, 2008)

A 49-YEAR-old Larnaca importer and his family are seeking €10 million in damages after their lives were destroyed when he was arrested on pornography charges over three years ago.

Charilaos Charilaou was acquitted of all 18 charges connected to the importation of pornographic DVDs and videos in early 2005.

On Tuesday, the Larnaca district court threw out the case and Charilaou's merchandise, which had been held as evidence, was returned to him.

"What am I going to do with it now? It's useless and destroyed. There were around 40,000 DVDs and video tapes. The latter is old technology. What am I going to do with it? There were several hundred DVDs that I'd purchased for €18 each. This is a huge loss and the state must pay," Charilaou said yesterday.

But the financial damage incurred by the family did not stop there.

"Because of the huge fuss that was caused in the media, people thought I was involved in child pornography. I am also an importer of other things like children's sweets, water and sunscreen. A lot of my customers stopped buying from me. They told me they couldn't trust a corrupt porn king such as me because they had women and children in their shops and didn't want me near them," he said.

The court proceedings had also cost him his foreign contacts, which had taken years to build, he said.

"I'd been importing the material for seven years and then one morning they decided to raid my house. Overnight, I couldn't import any more and the foreign companies that I represented here could not understand why, as it was legal in the rest of Europe they said," he said.

Today, another businessman is the local representative for those companies, again costing the Charilaou family thousands of euros in loss of revenue.

The 49-year-old said this case had shown him the authorities clearly didn't know what was going on.

"According to customs, it's legal to import pornography, according to the police it's illegal and according to the courts it's legal. They have one law for importing, another for possession and another for trading. They really haven't got a clue," he said.

Moreover, he had an old letter in his possession from the Attorney-general instructing police not to take criminal action against him as the pornographic material he had in storage was legal.

"I'd even asked customs and the police if I could import the material and I was given their blessing and then they raided me anyway," he said.

Charilaou said he and his family were also suing police for the psychological devastation they'd wreaked.

He said the raid had been conducted when his youngest son was only 11 and both he and his wife were abroad on business.

"The three children were at home with the housemaid when around 26 officers came round. They combed the entire house and took personal items from my children's rooms. My youngest cried and begged them to leave his things alone and they just wrenched his play station and computer from his hands. They went through their underwear and spoke to them badly and ridiculed them," he said.

Socially, the family had also been affected as rumours broke out that the 49-year-old had been running a pornography copying company from his home.

The stress had also damaged his health and that he'd had to have surgery in Switzerland to remove a brain tumour, he said.

"Who is going to pay for all this?"

But Charilaou is mainly angry for the damage the past three and a half years have caused his children.

"The damage is irrevocable. Not only for what they experienced during the raid but also later with what was being said. They had no right," he said.

The 49-year-old said the legal paperwork was being prepared and that by next week it would likely be filed.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008