State pathologist Panicos Stavrianos has been barred from taking the stand in court proceedings investigating the death of former national guardsman Thanasis Nicolaou.

The development during Friday’s court hearing in Limassol allowed Nicolaou’s family to breathe a sigh of relief, as they were visible moved by the decision.

Judge Doria Varoshiotou said Stavrianos was the pathologist who carried out the autopsy on Nicolaou, which the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) condemned Cyprus for in the way it handled the case.

Nicolaou was found dead under a bridge in 2005 and Stavrianos was the medical examiner who ruled Nicolaou’s death was due to suicide.

His remains were later exhumed, and the suicide ruling was deemed to be false. The family has always argued Nicolaou was murdered, potentially for knowing about drug rings within the army.

The state prosecution for weeks has been requesting that Stavrianos be allowed to take the witness stand and submit yet another report for the court to examine.

Varoshiotou had previously clashed with the state prosecutor over the matter, and argued the attorney-general’s office appeared to be ignoring ECHR rulings over the case.

During Friday’s hearing, the judge said Stavrianos’ involvement ended with his autopsy and post-mortem in 2005 and with his medial report over the matter nine months later.

“I also exclude Mr Stavrianos as a witness in the proceedings for the reasons I explain that concern this court’s obligation to comply with EHCR decision.”

The hearing will continue on January 25, 26, 29.