By Stefanos Evripidou
DEFENCE LAWYERS for the six officials who stand accused in the Mari trial yesterday gave their closing arguments, calling for the acquittal of all six.
The six defendants are former foreign minister Marcos Kyprianou, former defence minister Costas Papacostas, former national guard deputy chief Savvas Argyrou, former fire service chief Andreas Nicolaou; deputy fire chief Charalambos Charalambous; and former disaster response squad (EMAK) commander Andreas Loizides.
They are charged with causing death by want of precaution, and homicide by gross negligence in relation to the deaths of 13 killed on July 11, 2011.
Cyprus seized nearly 100 containers of munitions cargo in early 2009 from the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk that was going from Iran to Syria, in violation of a UN Security Council resolution.
The containers were subsequently left to boil under the sun at the Mari naval base for two years until the munitions eventually exploded, killing seven sailors and six soldiers who were trying to put out the fire that had started at the site of their storage.
In their closing arguments, each lawyer representing the six defendants asked for their acquittal, arguing that the state prosecution had failed to prove their guilt.
The defence lawyers said the blame lay mostly with Colonel Georgios Georgiades, who turned state witness, and the former heads of the National Guard Constantinos Bisbikas and Petros Tsalikides.
Defence lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou, representing Papacostas, Nicolaou and Charalambous, argued that the prosecution has failed to prove the elements of the crimes attributed to the three defendants, instead pointing the finger at Georgiades.
“We were literally amazed listening to Colonel Georgiades and other prosecution witnesses confess that they were aware of the regulations for safe storage and maintenance of the munitions in question, but did nothing to implement them because the munitions, as they said, did not belong to the National Guard,” he said.
Giorgos Georgiou, defence lawyer for Kyprianou and Argyrou, also said the prosecution had failed to prove beyond doubt the guilt of his clients, and argued that the blame lay mainly with Bisbikas, his chief of staff Giorgos Sofianides and Georgiades.
He also said Tsalikides was responsible for not giving instructions to correct the situation once he took over the National Guard.
Loizides’ lawyer Thanasis Korfiotis argued that the state’s decision to go after his client was unfair and unlawful, and could only be explained as an effort to find a scapegoat.
The trial will continue this morning with the closing argument of state prosecutor Paulina Efthyvoulou.