Swords were drawn at the House human rights committee on Monday, after the justice ministry, legal service and former prison director Anna Aristotelous were called to answer why the late Defence Minister Costas Papacostas was barred from right to yard time during his incarceration for the Mari blast.

Earlier this year, Nicosia district court ruled that the Republic of Cyprus violated the human rights of Papacostas in a lawsuit filed against the state by the minister’s family.

The matter was tabled to be discussed at the committee by Akel, seeking to hold someone accountable over the violations the court found in its decision which concerned his barred yard time, while also improving the process so as to prevent a repeat.

Akel MP Irene Charalambides said Papacostas’ doctors had argued in favour of him being allowed to access the yard for health reasons and had made this recommendation to the medical board.

Relatives of the Mari victims however have expressed their fury over the discussion, saying this was an insult to those who had died. They were not invited to attend the committee hearing.

During the tumultuous House human rights session, Charalambidou, who chairs the committee, and Aristotelous often raised their tones at each other, with the latter saying she adhered to all decisions made by the medical board.

She said five medical boards had not recommended yard time for Papacostas – who served his prison time 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.

According to Aristotelous, when the sixth medical board ruled Papacostas needed time in the yard, she complied immediately and ensured it was implemented.

The former prison director also sought to ask why a number of other violations found in the courts were not tabled in the committee – suggesting the party was doing this because he was one of their own.

The question drew the ire of Charalambides who said Aristotelous would not be dictating what the committee discussed.

Nonetheless, the responsibility to determine whether there were disciplinary or criminal offences in the way Papacostas was treated lies with the attorney general a representative from the legal service said.

She highlighted the service had received a letter from Papacostas’ family in August and the matter was being investigated.

Justice Minsiter Anna Procopiou added that any recommendations from the legal service over accountability and responsibility would be examined.

Papacostas’ son Nicolas, who represented his family during the committee hearing said it was unacceptable and an offence to his father’s memory that Aristotelous attended the session to cast doubt over the court’s decision.

Asked what he had expected, he said the family has two questions which have yet to be answered. The first surrounds the court decision which found fault with the delay in giving Papacostas the appropriate medical care.

“Those responsible, Justice Minister at the time Ionas Nicolaou and Prison Director Anna Aristotelous, have not told us why they delayed giving Costas Papacostas the medical treatment his doctors requested.”

The second question, was what the consequences will be for those who led the Republic of Cyprus to be found guilty in the court of law for violating human rights.

The Mari blast 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.

The court decision earlier this yea 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.

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