Cyprus Mail

All Mari defendants ‘guilty of neglect’

Smoke billows from a destroyed power station in Mari on July 11, 2011

ALL six defendants in the 2011 Mari naval base blast trial displayed varying degrees of neglect, prosecutors said yesterday, as they urged the court to hand down a guilty verdict for the death of 13 firemen and sailors.

State prosecutor Polina Efthivoulou suggested the defendants’ culpability rested either in their omission to prevent the July 11 explosion despite knowing or ought to have known that it was a possibility, or in neglecting to inform of the possibility or for failing to order the evacuation of personnel.

Former ministers of defence and foreign affairs Costas Papacostas and Marcos Kyprianou have been charged with manslaughter and causing death through a negligent act for their involvement in the events leading up to the munitions explosion at the Evangelos Florakis naval base, which killed seven sailors and six firemen.

Former National Guard deputy commander Savvas Argyrou, fire service chief Andreas Nicolaou, deputy chief Charalambos Charalambous, and Andreas Loizides, the commander of the disaster response squad EMAK also face the same charges.

The munitions had been seized from the Monchegorsk, a Syria-bound Cyprus-flagged ship that sailed from Iran.

They were confiscated in February 2009 after it was determined they were in breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iran.

They had been stored in 98 containers that were left exposed to the elements until the day they exploded, also crippling the island’s biggest power station, which was right next door.

A public inquiry into the blast held President Demetris Christofias chiefly responsible while Kyprianou and Papacostas were blamed.

The inquiry was only tasked with identifying potential political responsibility and its findings were non-binding.

Despite the intense pressure, Christofias refused to resign and rejected the findings as unsubstantiated. He accused the investigator, lawyer Polys Polyviou, of exceeding his mandate.

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