By Angelos Anastasiou
The Cyprus Friends of the Police Association has suggested to the local authorities in Strovolos, in Nicosia among others, that a street should be named in honour of Costas Papacostas, the former defence minister who died last September while serving a five-year jail term for failing to take appropriate safety measures prior to the Mari explosion.
Prior to serving Demetris Christofias’ government from 2008 to 2011, when he resigned following the Mari blast, Papacostas held a series of noted posts, including army officer for 18 years, founder and director of elite riot squad MMAD, deputy chief of police, and three-term parliamentarian with AKEL.
In addition to these, he has been honoured by the Republic of Cyprus with the Resistance medal for fighting against the coupists in July 1974, as well as joining the EOKA struggle from 1955 to 1959.
In honour of these accomplishments, and for a host of other reasons, the Friends of the Police said in a letter to various municipal authorities, a street should bear his name.
But although it has yet to be officially looked at, the suggestion has sparked serious controversy, due to Papacostas’ disgrace during the final chapter of his life.
He was found by a court to have known about the risks posed by the keeping of 98 containers of army-grade explosives at Mari, off the Evangelos Florakis naval base, but his negligent failure to take adequate precautions left 13 dead in July 2011.
Daily Phileleftheros quoted Strovolos Mayor Lazaros Savvides as saying that the proposal will be discussed in early February.
However, he noted, in addition to the anticipated controversy, an additional issue should be tackled first – one of practicality.
The Strovolos municipality, Savvides said, already has a Costas Papacostas street, named after an EOKA fighter.
Therefore, he added, the issue of whether Strovolos can give the same name to another street – albeit in honour of a different person – will be examined first.
The proposal is slated for discussion at municipal group-level, with the decision to be made by majority.
“We made the proposal last October to various municipalities,” Friends of the Police head Neophytos Papamiltiades told the Cyprus Mail.
“I don’t know what they’ve been doing since then. We made the proposal and it’s up to them, if they want to do it.”