Cyprus: 98-year-old woman faces gambling charge

AP News

3/1/2012 10:05:33 AM - AP News

Cyprus police have summoned a 98-year-old and about 40 other elderly women to court to face gambling charges after raiding their weekly poker party.

The women, mostly in their 70s, were stunned to receive a court summons this week, more than two years since the raid, said Yioula Diakantoni, the daughter of the 98-year-old.

The women had gathered at a home in November 2009 for a four-hour simplified poker-and-bridge afternoon over sandwiches and pastries when police arrived, she said Thursday.

"They were playing with only very small sums of money, just to make it interesting," Diakantoni said. "It's silly for police to concern themselves with such trivial games when there are more serious things they should pursue."

She said some women were frightened at the police raid in the coastal town of Limassol and attempted to flee. Others didn't realize what was going on _ including one woman who asked police to wait until she had finished playing her hand.

Diakantoni said two of the women have since died and another two are in a nursing home. Her mother, Eftychia Yiasemidou, was reluctant to go to court but will if her doctor approves it. Most of the women are simply amused by the affair, she added.

"My mother has never done anyone harm and we hope she continues playing because it keeps her mind sharp," she said.

Gambling in Cyprus punishable by up to six months in jail or a euro750 ($1,000) fine.

Prosecutor Michalis Themistocleous said the summons was procedural but added the attorney general was looking at whether to proceed.