Nicosia district court on Wednesday ruled that the Republic of Cyprus violated the human rights of former defence minister Costas Papacostas during his incarceration in the aftermath of the 2011 blast at Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari.

According to a press release by his family’s lawyers Achilleas Demetriades and Michalis Fieros, Papacostas’ family has won a lawsuit against the government, validating their claims that the former defence minister had been unjustly treated during his imprisonment.

The explosion took place in July 2011, when a large amount of ammunition and military explosives kept in shipping containers at the naval base self-detonated, killing 13 people and injuring a further 62.

A three-judge panel at the time ruled that Papacostas, then 73, was responsible for safeguarding the containers and was aware of the dangers posed by the way they had been stored, but failed to take action to prevent the explosion.

He was sentenced in July 2013 to five years in prison for manslaughter and causing death by reckless or dangerous acts.

Papacostas served his term in Nicosia general hospital due to his deteriorating health. He died in September 2015, while serving time, as appeals made by his family for his release due to his seriously compromised health were rejected.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Fieros stressed that the specific case strictly has to do with the conditions of his imprisonment, and not the terms of his sentence.

The court ruled that while being held at Nicosia general hospital, Papacostas was not granted the right to yard time between July 2013 and April 2015, meaning he was not allowed to go outdoors at all despite recommendations from his doctors.

More specifically, the psychiatrist assigned to Papacostas had recommended in November 2014 that yard time was a necessary part of his medical treatment.

Fieros also said that based on testimonies, the court ruled that this was a contributing factor in the deterioration of the former minister’s health, without specifying to what degree.

According to the court, this constitutes inhumane treatment in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Article 8 of the Constitution.

“We’re talking about a very serious, twofold violation of his human rights, just a step away from torture” Fieros said.

The court further awarded damages of €20,000 for human rights violations.