Cyprus Mail

Court awards compensation to families of Mari victims

The family of fire sergeant Andreas Papadopoulos who was killed in the 2011 Mari Naval blast which killed 13 people will be given €628,000 in compensation in addition to €380,000 the family already received, a Larnaca court has ruled.

The court also decided on compensation for the relatives of firefighter Panayiotis Theofilos and warrant officer Kleanthis Kleanthous who were killed in the blast.

The wife and three children of Papadopoulos who was 44 when he was killed had already received €380,000 from the state in August 2011. Papadopoulos’ daughters were aged 7, 13 and 15 at the time. However, the court decided “the payment of €380,000 did not concern payment which the applicants were entitled either by law or on the basis of an insurance or other contract.”

The court case was filed by his spouse, saying that with the death of her husband she and her children “have lost the support of a husband and father.” The statement was not contested by the Republic and the court granted the compensation in addition to the money which had been awarded by the state earlier on.

The court accepted that the Republic was responsible for the death of Andreas Papadopoulos, who was on duty in the early hours of July 11, 2011 at the naval base ‘Evangelos Florakis’ in Mari, where 98 containers of munitions stored in the open for two and a half years exploded, killing 13 and destroying the main power station at Vassiliko.

“The Republic has shown criminal disregard for the lives of persons, including Andreas,” President of the Court Harris Malachtou said.

Based on the evidence the court noted that “it shows unequivocally and categorically that the Republic of Cyprus has grossly violated its obligation under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to protect the life of the deceased Andreas Papadopoulos.”

The court pointed out that in this case the “Republic of Cyprus in possession of a dangerous cargo proceeded in storing it in an inappropriate way that increased its risk. The storage method was an essential element that over time further increased the risk.”

In the case of Panayiotis Theofilos, who was unmarried and 30 years old at the time of his death, the court ruled that apart from the sum of €95,000 received by his family in 2011 his relatives were entitled to a compensation of €152,000.

The lawsuit was filed by Theofilos’ parents and sister and his father testified during the trial, referring to the pain and suffering caused by the death of his son to himself, his mother and his sister.

The family of warrant officer Kleanthis Kleanthous, 51 in 2011, also filed a lawsuit. In addition to €285,000 which is wife and two children got in 2011 they will be handed the sum of €302,000. At the time of his death his daughter was 25 and his son was 17.

In all cases the Republic accepted full responsibility for the deaths.

The amounts are payable with interest and the Republic is required to pay the legal expenses of the families. According to state radio, another nine cases will be brought before the court in the next few days.

In early 2009 Cyprus had seized a cargo of nearly 100 munitions containers from the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk that was en route 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 on July 11, 2011, killing seven sailors and six firemen who were trying to put out the fires that broke out at the storage site.

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