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Cyprus

Jail for four found guilty in Mari blast

Former defence minister Costas Papacostas

 

Former defence minister Costas Papacostas was sentenced to five years jail on Friday on charges of manslaughter for his role in the July 11, 2011 Mari naval base blast, in which 13 sailors and firemen died.

The three other men convicted on July received sentences of two years each.

On July 9, the court convicted Papacostas of manslaughter, while firemen Andreas Nicolaou, Charalambos Charalambous and commander of the disaster response team EMAK, Andreas Loizides were found guilty of causing death due to reckless and dangerous acts. The court said at the time that Papacostas had “closed his eyes to the danger”.

It said on Friday that the three others did not have primary responsibility at the time of the explosion. but failed to handle the situation as they should have.

The former minister was not in court n Friday and remains at the Nicosia General Hospital where he has been since July 9, the day of the verdict, said to be in poor health.

Handing down its verdict, which took around one hour, the court said the four were part of a political system that had, with a series of mistakes and omissions, led to the explosion of 98 containers kept in unsuitable conditions at the Evangelos Florakis naval base for two years.

The Larnaca court did acknowledge the history and contribution Papacostas had made to his country, while taking into account his health. Papacostas will be 74 this year. It had also taken into account the family situation of the other three men, it said.

According to reports, relatives of the 13 victims who were at the court on Friday said the sentences were not sufficient given that 13 people died in the blast.

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