Cyprus Mail

Former defence minister asks for presidential pardon

Former defence minister Costas Papacostas, currently serving a prison sentence over his role in a July 2011 blast at a naval base, has appealed for a presidential pardon, citing his worsening health.

In July 2013 Papacostas was found guilty of manslaughter for the Mari base incident and handed a five-year jail sentence; in December 2014, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the conviction and upheld the criminal court’s verdict.

Papacostas, 76, has been in hospital since his conviction.

He is now asking for a presidential pardon. His attorney says Papacostas’ health is deteriorating. According to medical documents supplied by the lawyer, Papacostas is one stage before kidney failure and urgently needs dialysis.

In the pardon appeal, lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou also cites his client’s worsening mental state, as Papacostas has been confined to a room in Nicosia general hospital since his conviction.

The chief psychiatrist there is also asking the department of prisons for permission for Papacostas to take walks in the hospital courtyard twice a day, which he is not allowed at the moment.

Efstathiou also points to the dissenting view of two judges at the Supreme Court who had said they disagreed with both Papacostas’ conviction and sentence.

In the opinion of the two judges, it was military officers who were liable for the explosion at Mari base that killed 13 sailors and firemen.

The appeal for a presidential pardon has been filed to the Attorney-general’s office. The Attorney-general and his deputy will consider it and issue a recommendation to the President.

The President usually goes along with whatever pardon recommendation is made by the Attorney-general’s office.

Cyprus seized 98 containers of munitions cargo in early 2009 from a Cypriot-flagged ship bound to Syria from Iran, 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 early in the morning of July 11, 2011.

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