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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Revenge killing motivated by her dismissal and interconnected with her desire to buy more shares in the company
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 11, 2010
Date of arrest: 11 days after
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: Andis Hadjicostis, 41 (director of the Dias Media Group)
Method of murder: Shooting (sawn-off shotgun)
Location: Nicosia, Cyprus
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment on June 13, 2013

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Elena Skordelli (Greek: Έλενα Σκορδέλη) (born c. 1968) is a Cypriot television presenter. In 2009 she was dismissed from her job at Sigma TV. Since then she has been working for CNC Plus TV.

Murder trial

In June 2010 Skordelli, along with her brother Tasos Krasopoulis and Andreas Gregoriou, was put on trial for allegedly conspiring to murder Andis Hadjicostis. Hajicostis, who was shot and killed in January 2010, was chief executive of the Dias media group, owner of Skorelli's former employer Sigma TV.

On the 13th of June 2013, Elena Skordelli, her brother Tasos Krasopoulis, Andreas Gregoriou and Grigoris Xenofontos were found guilty as charged slaying of Sigma boss Andis Hadjicostis by the Nicosia Criminal Court and sentenced to life imprisonment.


Andi Hadjicostis (September 1968 in Nicosia - January 11, 2010) was a Cypriot businessman and media mogul. Hadjicostis is credited with creating Sigma TV, a popular commercial television station in Cyprus, serving as the station's CEO. He also served as the CEO of the private, family-owned Dias Media Group, which controls Cypriot television stations, radio and newspapers. Hadjicostis modernized and reformed Dias during his tenure.

Andis Hadjicostis was shot and killed with a shotgun on January 11, 2010, while leaving his home in the Engomi neighborhood of Nicosia. He was 41 years old at the time of his murder.

The Simerini, a Dias owned newspaper, printed the front page editorial headline, "Cowardly murder – they killed Andy Hadjicostis in cold blood." Sigma TV switched to classical music programming on news of Hadjicostis' murder.

Cypriot police allege that Hadjicostis was murdered by a former employee, Elena Skordelli, a presenter on one of the victim's television stations. Skordelli had recently been fired. Skordelli, her brother and two other men allegedly conspired to kill Hadjicostis.

Elena Skordeli, her brother and the two other suspects were sentenced to life in prison in June, 2013, for the conspiracy and murder of Andi Hadjikostis.


How Cyprus TV presenter's naked ambition led to murder

By Chris Summers - BBC News

June 19, 2013

A TV presenter, her brother and two other men have been convicted of ordering the murder of a media tycoon in Cyprus. The trial heard Elena Skordelli's motive was naked ambition.

The trial of Skordelli had echoes of the plot of the 1995 movie To Die For, in which Nicole Kidman played a beautiful, ambitious but manipulative weather presenter, obsessed by becoming a newscaster, who ended up committing murder.

The prosecution claimed Skordelli was similar to Kidman's character in the film - a strawberry blonde high on ambition and cunning.

Detectives believed it was she who dreamt up the plot to murder media tycoon Andis Hadjicostis on 11 January 2010.

But her lawyer, Michael Kyprianou, told the BBC she was the victim of a "wall of hatred" whipped up by the police and media in Cyprus and he claims police failed to look into other scenarios.

As police closed in on her she started behaving erratically, threatening to sue journalists who tried to implicate her and claiming someone had tried to kill her by removing bolts from the wheel of her car.

Eleven days after the murder Skordelli was arrested in a blaze of publicity almost unprecedented in Cyprus.

Mr Hadjicostis, whose father Costis founded the DIAS Media Group, was shot dead in the centre of Nicosia and initially some fingers were pointed across the UN-patrolled Green Line into Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.

The shotgun casings found at the scene suggested the killer's weapon originated from the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and there was speculation among some Greek Cypriots that Mr Hadjicostis's murder was linked to the island's political dispute.

DIAS owns the Sigma television channel and also the Simerini newspaper, which had been an opponent of the Annan Plan for reunification of the island and took a hard line over talks with the Turkish Cypriots.

But the police said business, money and revenge were the true motive, not politics.

The trial heard Skordelli, 42, was sacked by Sigma in 2008 and was determined not just to get her own back but to take over the entire DIAS media empire.

She and her brother, Tassos Krasopoulis, 37, planned the murder of Mr Hadjicostis and hoped to take over his business after his death, the court heard.

Skordelli and her brother held a 21% share in Sigma and it was claimed in court they hoped to take over the channel in the wake of his death.

Detectives say her brother hired three men and promised them money and jobs-for-life at DIAS, even though they had no media experience.

Mr Hadjicostis was shot twice, in the chest and the back, and died instantly.

The gunman, 30-year-old Gregoris Xenofontos, fled after the murder but was tracked down to Moldova and was arrested in June 2011, after Skordelli's trial had begun.

 fourth conspirator, Andreas Gregoriou, was also convicted last week.

But it was the fifth member of the cabal, Theophanis Hadjigeorgiou, who proved to be the weak link.

He flipped and gave evidence for the prosecution.

Hadjigeorgiou claimed Skordelli said of Mr Hadjicostis: "They took my money, I want him to die."

He also said she was the only woman he had met who had "such hatred for a man".

Skordelli interrupted his testimony by standing up and shouting: "Shame on you, get up and get out."

But the prosecution said Hadjigeorgiou's damning testimony was corroborated by letters written by Skordelli and evidence found on her computer hard drive.

The trial, which dragged on for two years, also heard details about how the ambitious TV presenter had dreamed about having an affair with the wealthy Mr Hadjicostis.

The Cyprus Mail reported that a detective, Insp Marios Papaevridiadis, told the court: "She had a photo in 2008 (of Hadjicostis), that she gave to a psychic, through which positive energy was sent so that she could have sexual relations with him."

But when the psychic's efforts failed to have the required effect Skordelli fell out with Mr Hadjicostis and his father and was fired for "insubordination".

At her trial her lawyer suggested police had turned a blind eye to other possible scenarios, such as the involvement of a man who was having a relationship with Mr Hadjicostis' wife, Efi Papaioannou.

Mr Kyprianou told the BBC: "There were two or three other possible motives. There was a group making millions in illegal online gambling and the deceased was about to launch a legal online gambling site, and they were desperate to stop him."

Mr Kyprianou said he believed Hadjigeorgiou was the actual gunman but he became a protected witness who was given immunity in return for his testimony against Skordelli.

Mr Kyprianou said there was nothing sinister about her family owning shares in Sigma and he said it was nonsense to suggest she waited 16 months after being sacked to get "revenge" on Hadjicostis.

"What would she have gained? Nothing. The deceased had no shares but even if he had she couldn't have replaced him. It's a silly scenario," he said.

Mr Kyprianou said: "She was a very well known TV presenter but due to the adverse publicity they managed to build up a wall of hatred around her."

Skordelli has been in custody since February 2010 and Mr Kyprianou said one of her two young sons had suffered psychological problems as a result of being separated from her.

Giving evidence at the trial she said: "My children were children like all children of the world. They had their games and pocket money... My children are very upset after my arrest. I cannot talk to them from prison like I could from home."

Now she has been sentenced to life imprisonment and her children will have to grow up without their mother.


Cypriot TV host gets life in jail for boss's murder

By Karolina Tagaris -

June 13, 2013

(Reuters) - A Cypriot TV presenter was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for the murder of her boss in a case which has gripped the Mediterranean island.

Prosecutors said Elena Skordelli, 42, was driven by revenge to kill Andis Hadjicostis after she was sacked from her job as news anchor at his Sigma TV channel.

Skordelli and her brother Tassos Krasopoulis, 37, were convicted of the premeditated murder of Hadjicostis, CEO of the Dias Group, one of the largest media organisations in Cyprus, who was gunned down outside his home in Nicosia on January 11.

Both the accused had pleaded not guilty.


Four guilty in Hadjicostis murder

By Elias Hazou -

June 14, 2013

NICOSIA Criminal Court yesterday delivered a guilty verdict in the trial for the slaying of Sigma boss Andis Hadjicostis, bringing the case to a dramatic – and climactic – end.

The decision by the bench was unanimous.

The four defendants were found guilty as charged: of conspiracy to commit murder and of premeditated murder, a verdict that carries automatic mandatory life imprisonment.

The defendants were former Sigma presenter Elena Skordelli, her brother Tasos Krasopoulis, Andreas Gregoriou and Grigoris Xenofontos, the ‘fixer’ and shooter respectively.

It took the court almost three hours to read out the highlights of its 380-page ruling.

Inside a tense, jam-packed courtroom, relatives and friends of the victim sat at one side, the kin of the defendants at the other.

Hadjicostis’ parents were both present, as was his wife. The victim’s mother, Toula, wept as the court recounted the circumstances of the killing.

Pent-up emotions erupted once the guilty verdict was read out, with angry relatives of the accused yelling and jostling with police officers.

Some of the relatives tried to take out their frustration on journalists and photographers, but police officers stepped in to break up the fracas, and evacuated the newsmen from a backdoor.

Similar scenes unfolded outside, where some of the convicts’ relatives burst into tears, others fainted, while someone grabbed a photographer’s gear and threw it on the ground.

Relatives of the accused generally appeared to harbour ill feelings toward the media – partly because of what they perceived as biased coverage of the trial, but also because yesterday many of them were not allowed inside the courtroom as it had become packed with journalists.

The convicts were escorted into police vans, and driven off straight to the Nicosia Central Prisons to serve their jail terms. A sobbing Skordelli had to be dragged into the van.

The commotion necessitated the deployment of the police’s counter-terrorism unit to assist with the transportation.

According to the court, Skordelli and her brother – both shareholders in the Sigma television station – masterminded the assassination of Hadjicostis, whom they saw as impeding their plans to gain a controlling interest in the company.

Their motive was vengeance as well as the corporate elimination of Hadjicostis.

“They wanted to wipe him off the face of the earth,” the court noted in its judgment.

It said Skordelli and her brother began hatching plans to kill the Sigma boss as far back as October 2009.

The judges also accepted that a meeting of the conspirators took place at Krasopoulis’ house in December 2009.

The Sigma boss was gunned down on January 11, 2010, just after arriving home around 9pm in the Engomi neighborhood of Nicosia. He was 41 years old.

Xenofontos shot Hadjicostis twice, killing him, while Fanos Hadjigeorgiou drove the getaway bike.

Crucially for its decision, the court said it considered Hadjigeorgiou – who admitted to participating in the crime – a credible witness.

Hadjigeorgiou had turned state’s witness in exchange for immunity and had been placed in a witness protection programme. The prosecution’s case had hinged on his testimony.

During the trial, which lasted three years, the defence had hammered away at Hadjigeorgiou in a bid to discredit him. The defence lawyers raised the possibility that it was Hadjigeorgiou who shot and killed Hadjicostis and that he subsequently pinned the crime on others in order to cut an immunity deal with authorities.

In its ruling yesterday, the court described the police investigation prior to the trial as unimpeachable, despite the fact authorities were unable to track down the murder weapon.

Failure to locate the weapon, it said, could not be taken to mean that no crime was committed.

The sawn-off shotgun, used to fire the two lethal shots, was never recovered.

The court dismissed the argument that the defendants’ constitutional rights had been violated due to the delay in the start of the trial. It also dismissed claims that media coverage of the case may have prejudiced the trial.

Skordelli, 42, a former TV presenter, hails from the village of Pera Orinis, as does her brother Krasopoulis, 37, a civil servant. Gregoriou, 33, is a butcher from Tseri, and Xenofontos, 29, a plumber from Nicosia.


The sacked TV host and a story of revenge: life in jail for mafia-style murder of millionaire media mogul

By Charlie Charalambous -

June 14, 2013

A glamorous TV host, her brother and two others have been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of the mafia-style murder of a Cypriot media boss in a case that shocked the island.

Media tycoon Andis Hadjicostis, 42, was gunned down outside his home near the heavily guarded US embassy on January 11, 2010. The millionaire was shot twice from close range and died instantly.

The chat-show presenter hatched the plot to kill her ex-boss - the scion of an influential family - in a conspiracy to take control of his media empire.

Elena Skordelli, a 42-year-old mother of two, her brother Tassos Krasopoulis, 37, Andreas Gregoriou, a 33-year-old meat supplier, and plumber Grigoris Xenophontos, 29, were all found guilty of the contract killing.

Under Cyprus law, premeditated murder carries an automatic life sentence.

A large crowd gathered outside the Nicosia courthouse for the climax of the trail, with scuffles breaking out between police and relatives and friends of the accused.

The three-judge criminal court based its decision on the testimony given by key prosecution witness Fanos Hadjigeorgiou - the self-confessed getaway motorbike driver.

"The testimony of key prosecution witness Fanos Hadjigeorgiou is not only true but emanates from his desire to tell the whole truth to investigators," said the 380-page court verdict.

Hadjigeorgiou admitted to his part in the crime then turned state witness to give evidence against the other four. The defence argued his testimony was not credible.

During the three-year trial the court heard the TV journalist and her brother ordered the hit on Hadjicostis for a 50,000 euro ($63,600) fee.

And in return those who successfully carried out the task would also be given jobs at the station.

A detailed list of the amount of shares purchased by the siblings in the media group Sigma Radio TV was also revealed during the lengthy trial.

The criminal court heard that they purchased a 20-odd per cent stake holding in the media company owned by the victim's family for over three million euro.

What evolved was a story of revenge as Skordelli had lost her job at Sigma and she held Hadjicostis responsible.

Prosecutors said the chat-show presenter hatched the plot to kill her ex-boss - the scion of an influential family - in a conspiracy to take control of his media empire.



Cypriot newsreader accused of hiring hitman to murder her boss

A Cypriot TV anchorwoman has gone from presenting the news to making it after being accused of hatching a dramatic murder plot.

By Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia -

February 21, 2010

To most viewers of Cyprus's Sigma TV, Elena Skordelli was just another pretty face in an endless schedule of soaps, game shows, and cosy sofa chat.

Yet behind the blonde hair and girlish voice there lay a steely desire to get to the top: having started her career as a daytime TV lifestyle guru, she fought her way to a coveted job as an evening news anchorwoman.

And yet a court in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia, is set to be told that the 42-year-old presenter's ambition went well beyond the norm.

In a case that has shocked the island - and transfixed Sigma's viewers as seldom before - the former newscaster stands accused of paying an assassin to murder her TV channel's owner after he sacked her.

Ms Skordelli is alleged to have arranged the revenge killing of Andis Hadjicostis, 43, a popular and well-respected broadcasting mogul who was gunned down outside his villa in Nicosia's diplomatic quarter on the evening of January 11th.

The head of Dias Group, the largest media company in Cyprus, his otherwise inexplicable execution was initially thought to have been linked to the divided island's long-unresolved political dispute. Shell casings believed to have from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus were found at the scene of the crime, prompting speculation that it was connected to his firm's opposition to UN-backed plans to reunite the island.

Now, however, detectives have charged both Ms Skordelli, her brother Tassos Krasopoulos, and an alleged hitman with the killing, after a fourth accomplice, Theophanis Hadjigeorgiou, was arrested and agreed to give state's evidence.

They believe that Ms Skordelli was motivated by both revenge for her sacking and a desire to become a media mogul herself by siezing control of Dias. Having already acquired a 20 per cent stake jointly with her brother, she attempted to buy out other Dias shareholders after Mr Hadjicostis's death.

"Ms Skordelli was motivated by her hostility against the victim because he terminated her employment at Sigma television," state prosecutor, Savvas Matsa, told The Sunday Telegraph 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."

Perhaps fittingly, for a woman who made a living by the lens, it was camera evidence that brought about her arrest.

CCTV footage attached to the house of a British diplomat living some way from the killing showed the gunman escaping on a motorcycle ridden by Mr Hadjigeorgiou, the man who is now the prosecution's star witness. After his arrest, he named his co-conspirators in a seven-page police statement in exchange for being put on a witness protection program.

The case has invited comparisons with the plot of the 1995 Nicole Kidman movie "To die for", in which an ambitious TV weathergirl hatches a murder plot in a bid to become a famous news anchor.

In leaked copies of the police statement, Mr Hadjigeorgiou describes meeting Ms Skordelli at her brother's house after she had been fired.

There, in a room with "impressive chandeliers and pictures on the walls" he and his accomplice, Andreas Gregoriou, 33, were contracted to carry out the killing for £43,000. They were also told that they they would be offered jobs for life at Sigma television once Ms Skordelli and her brother had taken control of the company. According to the testimony, Ms Skordelli allegedly concluded the deal by saying of her boss, "I want this man dead".

Mr Hadjicostis was educated in Britain and had won praise for expanding the Dias Group media business founded by his father, which includes four radio stations, a daily newspaper, and the Cypriot franchises of OK and Time Out magazines. He was described by one of his former employees as "firm but fair, a rich kid, but very straight, he always had time for you."

Ms Skordelli, by contrast, appears to have been cut out to be neither a Cypriot Judy Finnegan nor a member of its Mafia underclass.

The presenter, who began her TV career in programmes about yoga and dieting, was described by one news cameraman who worked with her as "a bit of an air-head". Several of her colleagues at Sigma were surprised when she began presenting the evening news. "She was so obviously out of her depth," said one journalist, "you just felt sorry for her."

Another added: 'Frankly I didn't think she was really capable of organising a shooting. But she was very ambitious, you could tell from her body language."

In his testimony to police, Mr Hadjigeorgiou said that the murder had been planned by Mr Gregoriou, a butcher who supplied meat to a restaurant run by the Skordelli family in the village of Pera outside Nicosia. He claimed that in the event, Mr Gregoriou had been unable to shoot the media executive himself because he had been seriously injured when a bomb he was transporting in his car exploded prematurely. It is not clear whether the bomb was intended for the killing or for some other crime. A third hitman, who has since fled to Moldova, is alleged to have taken his place.

The three defendants were charged jointly at a preliminary hearing convened in an improvised courtroom in a private hospital in Nicosia, where Mr Gregoriou is still receiving treatment for his bomb injuries.

Ms Skordelli turned up wearing expensive sunglasses and holding a Louis Vuitton bag, and was accompanied to the hearing by her sister. As the charges of murder, conspiracy to murder and the transportation of firearms and explosives were read out, her sister made cut-throat gestures at the two alleged contract killers, and was also placed under arrest.

Ms Skordelli has strenously denied all the charges, and claims her own life has now been put in danger because of what she describes as "defamatory whisperings and publicity carried out at my expense".

Nonetheless, speculation about the murder – with much lurid embellishment – has dominated coffee shop chatter in recent weeks, with the Cypriot blogosphere offering numerous different theories.

Observers of the case have also noted that while Ms Skordelli has now swapped her TV studio for a prison remand cell, old habits have died hard when it comes to appearing before the camera.

As she left the hospital courtroom to face a waiting press pack, she stopped the female officer to whom she was handcuffed to rearrange her hair.



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