Uncertainty over Mari Explosion Trial
There is uncertainty over the course of the trial of eight officials in connection with the deadly explosion at Mari naval base on July 11th, 2011. According to lawyer Christos Triantafyllides, the case may be postponed again because one of the defendants refuses to come back to Cyprus from Athens.
Former Chief of the National Guard Petros Tsalikides did not appear before Larnaca district court on the 23rd of April and since then, a European arrest warrant was issued for him. The situation is complicated by the fact that the Greek army said that a Greek national will not be tried in the Cyprus Republic, but only in Greece.
Triantafyllidis, who represents the relatives of the firefighter Panagiotis Theophilou - one of the 13 men who died in the blast - said that on the other hand, the case may go forward without Tsalikides, similar to the Andy Hadjicostis murder case in which one of the main suspects fled to another country.
Indictments have been issued against former foreign minister Markos Kyprianou, former defence minister Kostas Papakostas, former army chief Petros Tsalikides, assistant army chief Savvas Argyros, and officer George Georgiades, along with the chief and deputy chief of the fire service Andreas Nikolaou and Charalambos Charalambous and the commander of EMAK, Andreas Loizides.
The blast was caused after munitions that were confiscated by the state from Iran en route to Syria in January 2009 were left exposed to the elements at Evangelos Florakis naval base until they exploded on July 11th, 2011. According to the public inquiry, the explosives were not destroyed or removed from the base because of political reasons. Those reasons had to do with the president's assurance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that they would not leave Cyprus and would be returned to Iran and Syria.
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