Ex-minister found guilty over Cyprus munitions blast

Updated 10 July 2013
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Ex-minister found guilty over Cyprus munitions blast

NICOSIA: A former Cypriot defense minister was found guilty of manslaughter yesterday over a deadly munitions blast two years ago that killed 13 people and crippled the economy in the island’s worst peacetime disaster.
A court ruled that Costas Papacostas, who served in the former communist government, bore direct responsibility for a sequence of failures to safeguard a cargo of confiscated Iranian munitions that exploded in the early hours of July 11, 2011.
Papacostas and three senior fire service officials found guilty of negligence will be sentenced on July 24.
A former foreign minister, Marcos Kyprianou, and one other defendant were cleared of all charges. The blast at Vassilikos leveled Cyprus’s largest power station, sending an already troubled economy into a deeper downward spiral that ended in a chaotic international bailout for the Mediterranean island two years later.
The Iranian-made munitions were bound for Syria when Cyprus intercepted the ship ferrying them there in 2009. They were stored on the island for being in violation of UN sanctions prohibiting Iranian arms exports.
Compressed gunpowder and shell casings were kept for months in scorching heat at a naval base adjacent to the power station and Papacostas ignored warnings from subordinates about the growing risks, the court said.
“We have no doubt the defendant was aware of the risks... but closed his eyes to the danger,” presiding Criminal Court Judge Tefkros Economou said in his verdict.

 


Israel says 15 Hamas operatives arrested in West Bank raid

Updated 17 min 22 sec ago
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Israel says 15 Hamas operatives arrested in West Bank raid

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military says it has arrested 15 Hamas operatives in an overnight West Bank raid.
The military says Sunday those captured are suspected of collaborating with a well-known Hamas operative from Gaza to spread its activities to the West Bank, which is governed by the rival Fatah movement. The raid comes after Hamas accused Israel of assassinating one of its men in Malaysia and amid a wave of mass protests along the Gaza border that have turned violent.
In three weeks of protests, Israeli troops have killed 32 Palestinians and wounded some 1,600. Hamas says the protests are against a decade-long blockade of the isolated strip. Israel says it is defending its sovereign border and only targeting instigators. It says Hamas uses the protests as cover for attacks.