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Cyprus

AG’s office not trying to cheat relatives of Mari victims, it says

Photo: Christos Theodorides

The Legal Service is not trying to reduce the sum awarded as damages to the family of a victim of the 2011 Mari disaster, it said in a statement on Friday, in response to public outcry and media criticism over the last few days.

A decision to appeal certain aspects of court rulings awarding damages to the family of fireman Vasilis Krokos, who died in the blast of 98 containers filled with explosives near Mari in July 2011, prompted harsh criticism against the Legal Service, with accusations of “heartlessness”, “pettiness and cruelty”, and “short-sighted legalism” appearing in print media.

All criticism seemed to revolve around the perception that the Legal Service is trying to reduce the sums awarded, in order to save the government money – which is a false perception, the service said in its statement.

“The facts relating to the filing of an appeal against the court ruling awarding damages to the relatives of a victim of the Mari tragedy should be placed in the proper context, away from inaccuracies and overreactions,” the Legal Service said.

“In this, as in every other similar case, the Republic has assumed full responsibility for the unjust loss of the innocent victims of the explosion, and the only issue for the court to examine was the kind and level of damages to be awarded.”

In its ruling, the court calculated the damages and came to a sum that could be considered generous, and appears to exceed the sums normally awarded in similar cases of loss of life, the Legal Service added.

“On these damages, as well as on the issue of not deducting the sum gratuitously paid to the families soon after the tragic instance, there has been no appeal, and the court was right to award such large amounts, given the facts of the case,” it said.

“It is noted that the only two issues on which an appeal was filed relate not to the level of any sum awarded, but with two purely legal issues on which, in the opinion of the Legal Service, the court erred.”

In addition, because the court ruling creates precedent, the statement added, which is expected to be followed in other similar cases, it was deemed expedient for this issue to be cleared up on appeal by the Supreme Court.

“The Legal Service’s effort will be that these issues are settled in a legally proper way, without the reduction of any damages awarded,” it clarified.

“In any case, however, the filing of an appeal in no way prevents the payment of all other damages awarded to the family of the victim.”

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