By Poly Pantelides
THE CABINET is pushing ahead with disciplinary investigations against officials who participated in discussions on the munitions’ containers stored at a naval base near Mari, a state announcement has said.
Attorney-general, Petros Clerides, had asked the ministries of justice and defence and the Cabinet to look into possible disciplinary action on high-ranking state officials in relation to their role in the events leading to the Mari munitions’ blast two years ago.
The officials are diplomat Leonidas Pantelides, who headed the president’s diplomatic office at the time of the blast; the justice ministry’s permanent secretary Christos Malikkides; Lieutenant Colonel Giorgos Georgiou; fire services’ official Leonidas Leonidou; and Colonel Giorgos Georgiades.
Cabinet decided to order the “relevant authorities” to appoint investigators in relation to possible disciplinary offences, deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said. In the case of Malikkides who is the justice ministry’s top bureaucrat, the attorney-general has suggested appointing someone from his office to investigate him, Papadopoulos said. Cabinet is due to appoint an investigator for Malikkides during its next session, while the ministries to which the other four answer to are expected to appoint investigators within next week.
Earlier this month, Larnaca criminal court found former defence minister Costas Papacostas guilty of manslaughter for the death of the 13 people who were killed from the blast. Three top fire service officials were found guilty of causing death through a reckless and dangerous act. The court acquitted former foreign minister Marcos Kyprianou and deputy National Guard commander Savvas Argyrou.
The court had found Pantelides’ statement non-credible, Malikkides’ statement skewed, Georgiou’s disingenuous, and raised questions over Leonidou’s “avoidance of describing gunpowder as an explosive.” The court also said that the testimony of Georgiades – who stored the munitions – was “inherently suspicious and doubtful” and chose not to use it against the defendants. The attorney-general originally intended Georgiades to prosecute Georgiades, who is now under disciplinary investigation, but chose to drop charges and use him as prosecution witness.