Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Explosion of a shipment of arms to Cyprus: an ex-defense minister convicted

Explosion of a shipment of arms to Cyprus: an ex-defense minister convicted

Former Cypriot Defence Minister Costas Papacostas was found guilty Tuesday, July 9 by the Criminal Court of Larnaca "homicide" after the death of 13 people in the explosion of an arms shipment in July 2011 on the island.

The commander of the brigade, Andreas Nicolaou and his deputy, Pambos Charalambous, as the commander of the unit in case of disaster response, Andreas Loizides, were on their side found guilty of negligence, a charge also made against M . Papacostas.

The Justice ruled that Costas Papacostas, who had served in the previous government was directly responsible for ammunition confiscated from an Iranian ship and exploded on July 11, 2011. Marcos Kyprianou, former Foreign Minister who was also held in that case, was cleared of all charges of negligence.

The defendants were liable to life imprisonment and have all pleaded not guilty.


On 11 July 2011, a brush fire had caused the explosion of a hundred containers loaded with Iranian weapons to Syria, seized in 2009 and stored carelessly on a naval base. The blast killed 13 people and destroyed the main power plant on the island, located 150 meters away, causing severe electricity shortages and daily power cuts during summer.

A public inquiry showed the responsibility of then president, Demetris Christofias, who insisted that the cargo remains in Cyprus in order to maintain its ties with Syria, but his presidential immunity prevented his prosecution.

During the long trial, the prosecution painted a picture of the long series of incompetence and negligence that led to the disaster, then every politician attempts to shirk on others. Fire chiefs in turn are accused of failing to prevent their men on the field content of the cargo.

Immediately after the explosion, this series of negligence had caused a protest unique in Cyprus, with major events every night in front of the presidential palace. The costly destruction of the power plant coincided with the beginning of a spiral of economic difficulties which resulted in a serious financial crisis for the island.

On the verge of bankruptcy, Cyprus had to solve in March to a bailout International 10 billion euros accompanied by stringent conditions that may keep the island in recession for several years.

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