Cyprus police charge ex-ministers in fatal blast

Jan 24, 2012, 8:19 PM

Associated Press

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – Cyprus police have filed criminal charges against two former Cabinet ministers over last year’s explosion of seized Iranian munitions that killed 13 people and touched off a political crisis, a senior police official said Tuesday.

The official said the charges against ex-Foreign Affairs Minister Markos Kyprianou and ex-Defense Minister Costas Papacostas include negligence causing death. Police did not publicly disclose the charges, and the official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Defendants convicted of that charge can be jailed for up to four years.

State-run CyBC television said the two men also face the more serious charge of manslaughter which carries a maximum life sentence.

Both Kyprianou and Papacostas told CyBC that they denied to police investigators all the charges.

Kyprianou said he believes the decision to prosecute him is politically motivated. “I consider it as an attempt to distract public opinion and to find a scapegoat,” he said.

Papacostas said he looks forward to setting the record straight in court.

The police official said unidentified charges also have been filed against three senior army officers and three fire department officials regarding the deaths.

Kyprianou and Papacostas resigned after the July 11, 2011, blast, which wrecked the island’s main power station and triggered weeks of street protests calling for President Dimitris Christofias’ resignation.

A public inquiry into the explosion said he was mainly to blame for the events that led to the explosion. Christofias rejected the inquiry’s nonbinding findings.

The munitions packed in some 98 containers were confiscated in February 2009 from a Cypriot-flagged ship suspected of transporting it from Iran to Palestinian militants in Gaza through Syria in breach of a United Nations ban on Iranian arms exports.

The containers had been left piled in an open field inside a naval base on the island’s southern coast, despite warnings from military officials that the munitions could spontaneously ignite as a result of their exposure to the elements.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, ...

Associated Press

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas; deal includes release of 50 hostages

Israel’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved a cease-fire deal with the Hamas militant group that would bring a temporary halt to a devastating war.

9 days ago

Palestinians leave their homes following Israeli bombardment on Gaza City, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (...

Associated Press

Israeli airstrikes crush apartments in Gaza refugee camp, as ground troops battle Hamas militants

A flurry of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday on a refugee camp near Gaza City leveled apartment buildings, leaving craters where they once stood.

1 month ago

Moroccan boys, Rayan and Ali walk amidst the rubble of their home which was damaged by the earthqua...

Associated Press

Powerful quake in Morocco kills more than 2,000 people and damages historic buildings in Marrakech

A powerful earthquake has struck Morocco, toppling buildings in villages and cities not built to withstand such force.

3 months ago

State Farm Stadium Gold Cup soccer arrests 2023...

Serena O'Sullivan

Police arrest five people after State Farm Stadium brawl on Thursday

Two people were arrested for a State Farm Stadium brawl after Thursday's soccer matches between Qatar and Honduras plus Mexico and Haiti.

5 months ago

Members of the Wagner Group military company load their tank onto a truck on a street. (AP Photo)...

Associated Press

Russia says Wagner Group’s leader will move to Belarus after his rebellious march challenged Putin

Russian leaders say the Wagner Group leader who staged a short-lived rebellion will move to Belarus and not face prosecution.

5 months ago

Associated Press

How (and when) to watch King Charles’ coronation in the US

There are plenty of options to watch the regalia-heavy event that serves as a formal confirmation of King Charles' dual role as head of state and titular leader of the Church of England.

7 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @KTAR923...

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

Cyprus police charge ex-ministers in fatal blast