Cyprus ex-ministers charged with murder

Cyprus ex-ministers charged with murder

NICOSIA - Agence France-Presse
Cyprus ex-ministers charged with murder

Thousands protest in Nicosia, demanding responsibles to resign in this July photo. AFP photo

Manslaughter charges were filed against Greek Cyprus’s former foreign and defense ministers yesterday in connection with a munitions blast that killed 13 people and crippled the country’s main power plant, state radio said.

Former foreign minister Marcos Kyprianou and ex-defense minister Costas Papacostas are among eight public officials -- who also include three senior army officers and three senior fire service officials -- facing prosecution over the July 11 blast that also injured 62 people. According to state media, they face charges of manslaughter, causing death through negligence, dereliction of duty and acts which caused bodily harm.

The other accused are former army commander Petros Tsalikides, his deputy Savvas Argyrou and army Colonel George Georgiades, along with fire chief Andreas Nicolaou, deputy fire chief and commander of the fire service’s disaster reaction unit. A public inquiry found President Demetris Christofias responsible for the explosion, but there was never any possibility of legal proceedings against him as the constitution gives him immunity from prosecution. Kyprianou, Papacostas and the army commander all resigned over the blast. The deputy commander was sacked.

There was a public outcry after munitions stored in the open at a naval base for three years exploded despite repeated warnings that they were unsafe, and streets protests called for Christofias to quit.The president has refused to step down. Some 98 containers were piled up unprotected at the Mari naval base, just 150 meters from the power station.

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