The trial for the death of national guardsman Thanasis Nicolaou continued Monday, with the testimony of the police guard that transported the soldier’s remains to Greece for further testing after his body was exhumed.
Panicos Stavrianos, the Cypriot pathologist who originally examined the remains, who was originally scheduled did not testify because one of lawyers for the Nicolaou family was sick, and the other attorney requested that a Greek medical examiner be brought in for questioning, as she can contribute her expertise.
Given that the lawyer is from Greece and does not hold a licence to practise law in the Republic, the court adjourned for a few minutes so that another lawyer could legally and formally attend the proceedings.
This was followed by the testimony of the chief constable of the police, who had undertaken, with the instructions of the then assistant police chief, to transport the sample of Nicolaou’s hyoid bone to Greece for examination.
The family’s lawyer raised the issue of a violation of the order for the transfer of the bones, which stated that upon their return they were handed back to the Limassol police within three days and questioned why they were kept for nine days in Nicosia.
For her part, the witness explained that the relevant reference to the decree came to her knowledge afterwards and that she had the bones in her custody at the police HQ and that the assistant chief at the time was aware of all her actions and was in consultation with the attorney-general’s office.
Asked about this, the witness explained that she had to go to Athens a second time, to pick up several samples that remained in the possession of the coroner Emmanuel Agapitou.
The representative of the attorney-general’s office asked the chief constable to state whether there was any intention on the part of anyone to keep the samples in her custody and if anything happened to them. She replied: “under no circumstances”. Her answer was also negative as to whether anyone or the attorney-general’s office knew about the decree in question.
Stavrianos, who back in 2005 had ruled Nicolaou’s death a suicide, will be questioned on December 20 and 22.
The request for Agapitou to also testify as a witness, the prosecution explained arises after the rejection of the request for the testimony of pathologist Andreas Marnerides, who was recently invited by the attorney-general to assist in the work of the legal service.
On Friday, the court heard that the attorney-general had pushed for Marnerides’ findings to be included during the hearing, which the court rejected.
The hearing will continue next Thursday, December 14, with the testimony of the anthropologist Eleftheria Charilaou, who examined the bones of Thanasis Nicolaou, after their exhumation.
Nicolaou’s body was found under a ditch in 2005. His death was ruled a suicide, but his family always claimed he had been murdered by fellow guardsmen in his army camp.