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Cyprus

Former defence minister dies (updated)

Costas Papacostas died in 2015

Former defence minister Costas Papacostas died in the early hours of Monday morning.

He died at around 4am.

Due to serious health problems, Papacostas was serving his jail time under guard at the Nicosia General Hospital. He had been sentenced to five years in prison for his part in the Mari tragedy.

Recently he had been suffering heart and kidney problems.

Papacostas was born in Ayia Triada Yialousa, Famagusta, in 1939.

He served as a National Guard officer for 18 years, attaining the rank of colonel. In 1973, he was seconded to the police force to help combat the illegal action of EOKA B.

In 1978 he was tasked with creating elite riot squad MMAD.
Papacostas eventually climbed to the post of deputy chief of police, a post he resigned in 1996 in protest of the state of affairs within the force.

He was elected Famagusta deputy on AKEL’s ticket that same year, and re-elected in 2001 and 2006.

In 2008, President-elect Demetris Christofias appointed him minister of defence, a post he held until three days after the disastrous Mari explosion in July 2011, for which he was eventually sentenced to five years in prison.

Last year, President Nicos Anastasiades was said to be mulling commuting Papacostas’ sentence due to his age and health problems, but was dissuaded by public outcry.

Papacostas was awarded the Resistance Medal in 2004 for his actions against the 1974 coup that overthrew Cyprus’ elected government, and a medal in 2006 for his contribution in the EOKA armed struggle from 1955 to 1959 for the liberation of Cyprus from British colonial rule.

He is survived by wife Chryso Mammidou and two children.

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