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Cypriot court announces the culprits of the explosion at the naval base two years ago

09 July 2013 / 23:07:53  GRReporter
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Two years after the massive explosion of ammunitions which were incorrectly stored at the naval base in Mari, the court in Larnaca has decided on the guilt of the accused in the case. The judicial court for felonies has found former Minister of Defence Kostas Papakostas guilty in connection with the explosion. Former director and former deputy director of the fire department Andreas Nikolaou and Charalambos Charalambous respectively and the head of the special forces of the Cypriot police at the time Andreas Loizides have been convicted on charges of causing death due to reckless, negligent or careless acts or behaviour. The four persons will remain in custody until 24 July when it is expected that their punishments will be announced.

The court has freed from guilt Markos Kiprianou, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Savas Argirou, former head of the National Guard.

The thirteen victims of the explosion were members of or were serving in the army of Cyprus, firefighters and members of the special forces. They died on 11 July 2011 during the explosion of 98 containers full of ammunitions which had been seized in 2009 from the Cyprus-flagged Russian ship Monchegorsk because of the embargo imposed on Syria.
According to the judgment, the witnesses have failed to prove Marcos Kiprianou’s responsibility in connection with the cargo and their testimonies have made it clear that he was in charge only of the political side of the issue. The judges in Larnaca state that former Minister of Defence Kostas Papakostas should assume the responsibility for the explosive cargo whereas Markos Kiprianou had not acted alone and followed the policy of former President of Cyprus Dimitris Christofias.

The text of the decision reads that the deceased Andreas Ioannidis, commander of the base and of the navy of Cyprus, and Andreas Papadopoulos, commander of the fire department, had been aware of the "danger to life" but remained there without ordering the evacuation of the unit due to the omissions by the accused Andreas Nikolaou, Charalambos Charalambous and Andreas Loizides.

Former head of the National Guard Savas Argiriou was not connected with the incident either as stated by the court's decision. It also notes that the commanders of the unit could not decide on the destruction of the ammunition without the approval of the President of the time, Dimitris Christofias.

Immediately after the decision was announced the former Minister of Defence was taken to hospital. According to sources of the state broadcaster of Cyprus, RIK, Kostas Papakostas fell ill and was taken to hospital to undergo a clinical examination.

The relatives of the 13 victims are not satisfied with the court decision, defining it as unfair. They are particularly annoyed in connection with the exculpation of former Foreign Minister Markos Kiprianou and accuse the chief prosecutor of being unable to collect evidence.

According to their defendants, the argument that Kiprianou had acted under the guidance of the former President opens up the possibility for submission of individual claims against Dimitris Christofias.

The question of Christofias’ role in the explosion has been also posed by Nicholas Papadopoulos, a deputy of the Democratic Party (DIKO), according to whom the conviction and the imposition of criminal liability against Kostas Papakostas, former Minister of Defence in his government, puts back on the agenda the issue of the responsibilities of the former President of Cyprus.

Tags: Crime newsCourt decisionExplosionNaval baseCyprusDimitris Christofias
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