Cyprus president sorry for blast deaths

2013-07-11 16:00
President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus. (File, AFP)

President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nicosia - Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday publicly apologised for the deaths of 13 firemen and soldiers in a munitions blast exactly two years since the island's worst peacetime disaster.

"Those who died during conditions of peace, were victims of irresponsibility and indifference of a state which today humbly bows in their memory," Anastasiades said at a memorial service held at the Mari naval base on the south coast where the explosion occurred on 11 July 2011.

"The state overwhelmingly extends a public apology and greatly regrets everything that it should have done on time but unfortunately failed to protect its children," he added.

He said the state took sole responsibility for everything that happened leading up to the explosion of confiscated Iranian munitions which also took out the island's largest power plant.

On Tuesday ex-defence minister Costas Papacostas was found guilty of manslaughter while three fire chiefs were convicted of causing death through negligence linked to the blast.

The four accused are scheduled to be sentenced on 24 July, although Papacostas is being treated in intensive care at Nicosia General Hospital under police guard.

Verdicts 'an injustice'


Doctors said he is suffering from high blood pressure after being admitted soon after the verdict.

Ex-foreign minister Marcos Kyprianou and army deputy commander Savvas Argyrou were found not guilty on all charges by the criminal court in the same trial.

Relatives of those killed - seven soldiers and six firemen - and injured in the blast at Mari expressed anger at the verdicts, which they described as an "injustice".

They had demanded that all the defendants "and many more" should go to prison for life.

Many believe that the person who should be on trial is Demetris Christofias who was president at the time of the blast.

A public inquiry found former president Christofias responsible for the explosion, but there was never any possibility of legal proceedings against him as the constitution gives him immunity from prosecution.

Ineptitude, oversights


Anastasiades said on Thursday he will propose legislation that will make the president and his ministers more accountability by restricting their immunity.

During the lengthy trial, the prosecution painted a picture of ineptitude and oversights that led to the disaster.

There was a public outcry after munitions stored at the naval base for almost three years, under searing heat in summer, exploded despite repeated warnings that they were unsafe.

About 98 containers were piled up unprotected at the base, just 150m from the island's biggest power station at Vassiliko.

They were seized in February 2009 when Cyprus intercepted a Cypriot-flagged freighter bound from Iran for Syria and a UN sanctions committee said the cargo contravened a ban on Iranian arms shipments.

The public inquiry said the munitions were kept in Cyprus to placate Syria and Iran in a risky diplomatic game.

Read more on:    nicos anastasiades  |  cyprus

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.