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Cyprus

State will pay full damages to Mari fireman’s family

Photo: Christos Theodorides

The government on Wednesday decided to pay the full amount of damages awarded to the family of a fireman killed during a munitions blast in 2011, despite an appeal filed by the Legal Service.

The decision was announced after a cabinet meeting, which discussed the matter of the appeal filed against the decision to award Vasilis Krokos’ family some €570,000 in damages.

“The Republic has accepted the damages awarded by the court in full,” deputy government spokesman Victor Papadopoulos said.

He added that the cabinet authorized the finance minister to consult with the Legal Service and give instructions for the immediate payment of the damages.

Vasilis Krokos was among 13 firefighters and sailors killed on July 7, 2011, when 98 containers filled with munitions exploded at the naval base where they had been stored in Mari.

They had been stacked in an open space and left exposed to the elements for over two years.

The munitions had been seized in 2009 from a Cyprus-flagged ship sailing from Iran to Syria.

The cabinet decision followed a public outcry against the appeal, which the Legal Service sought to defend a couple of weeks ago.

It rejected the notion that it was trying to reduce the amount awarded to save the government money, saying the accusations against it were unfounded.

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

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 incident, 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 clarified 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.

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