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Cyprus

Christofias hints at sabotage in Mari blast

The July 2011 explosion at Mari naval base may have been an act of sabotage, former president Demetris Christofias has alleged.

In an interview with the journal of Greek journalists (http://www.efsyn.gr/) published on Sunday, the former president hinted that the massive blast, where 13 people died and dozens more were injured, may have been the result of foul play.

Christofias was being interviewed ahead of the release of the Greek version of his book, tentatively titled ‘Suppressed History’ – an account of his presidency from 2008 to 2013.

The Greek version’s release date has yet to be confirmed.

The Turkish-language edition has already been published.

Speaking on the Mari incident – the event which marred his presidency – Christofias told Greek journalists that “question marks” hang over how the explosion happened.

Asked whether he was alluding to sabotage, the former president responded: “I am implying something which experts in Greece and Cyprus are saying. That is to say, that gunpowder does not ignite at night-time temperatures.

“This is paradoxical. I do not yet have the data which these people [experts] are citing, so for the moment I’m going to place a question mark next to this.”

The explosion at the Evangelos Florakis naval base was the worst peacetime military accident ever recorded in Cyprus.

The incident occurred on 11 July 2011, when 98 containers of munitions that had been stored for two-and-a-half years in the sun self-detonated.

The explosion occurred at 05:50 EEST (02:50 UTC) following a fire caused by explosions of several containers starting one hour and 20 minutes earlier.

In the aftermath of the blast, Christofias had appointed prominent lawyer Polys Polyviou to investigate the causes.

Polyviou found Christofias to be mainly responsible, while the respective foreign and defence ministers, Marcos Kyprianou and the late Costas Papacostas, were also found culpable. Christofias though, rejected the findings and accused Polyviou of overstepping his mandate.

In July of this year, Atorney-General Costas Clerides said there was insufficient evidence to indict Christofias for Mari, as the victims’ relatives are demanding.

The munitions had been seized by the United States Navy in 2009 after it intercepted a Cypriot-flagged, Russian-owned vessel, the Monchegorsk, travelling from Iran to Syria in the Red Sea.

According to leaked US cables through WikiLeaks, released in 2011, the US through Hillary Clinton exerted pressure on Cyprus to confiscate the shipment. The ship was escorted to a Cypriot port and the Cypriot navy was given responsibility for the explosives, which it moved to the Evangelos Florakis base a month later.

 


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