By Constantinos Psillides
Granting former defence minister Costas Papacostas a presidential pardon is a complicated issue, Attorney-general Costas Clerides has said, explaining that the ex minister’s failing health was not the only factor to be considered.
Speaking to CyBC radio, Clerides said it was not merely a legal issue. “On the one hand, this a humane issue due to the minister’s health, which is deteriorating. On the other hand though, our first concern is to protect the public interest and not offend the public’s sense of justice. Granting a pardon will possibly spark a reaction from the people, especially relatives of the victim’s at the Mari naval blast,” said Clerides.
He said every single factor would be considered so that a just decision would be reached.
While not stating it outright, President Nicos Anastasiades was in favour of granting a pardon to Papacostas, saying during an interview that “he wasn’t the one making the decisions that led to the accident” while also citing the former minister’s failing health and calling on the public to “show their humane side”.
According to Clerides, while a pardon is the president’s prerogative the attorney-general’s consent is still required.
Papacostas, 76, was given a five year sentence in 2013 on charges of manslaughter for his role in the Mari naval base blast on July 11, 2011, in which 13 sailors and firemen died. Papacostas has not spent a day behind bars but has been hospitalised at the Nicosia General Hospital due to poor health since his sentencing.
The former defence minister suffered a serious heart attack last week. While he is now in a stable condition, it is believed that his condition is irreversible.