Cypriot lawyer Polys Polyviou (left) hands over a report to Cypriot president Demetris Christofias (at the presidential palace in Nicosia yesterday after a public commission into the causes of the explosion of confiscated Iranian munitions in July which killed 13 people and destroyed the island's largest power station. KATIA CHRISTODOULOU / EPA
Cypriot lawyer Polys Polyviou (left) hands over a report to Cypriot president Demetris Christofias (at the presidential palace in Nicosia yesterday after a public commission into the causes of the expShow more

Inquiry blames 'carelessness' of Cyprus PM for munitions explosion that killed 13



NICOSIA // Forthright conclusions of an independent inquiry into Cyprus's worst peacetime military accident ignited renewed calls yesterday for the resignation of the island's beleaguered president, Demetris Christofias.

His "negligence and carelessness" were primarily to blame for the devastating explosion of a large cache of confiscated Syrian-bound, Iranian munitions that killed 13 people in July, a state-appointed investigator said.

Polys Polyviou, a highly respected, British-trained lawyer, told a news conference that Mr Christofias bore a "serious, and very heavy personal responsibility" for the blast at the Evangelos Florakis naval base at Mari on the island's southern coast.

But the Cypriot president last night vehemently denied any personal responsibility and proclaimed that Mr Polyviou - who was appointed by his own government - had exceeded his mandate and failed to provide evidence to support his accusations in a damning 643-page report.

Cyprus reluctantly seized the explosives from a Cypriot-flagged vessel in February 2009 after the United Nations sanctions committee said the consignment contravened a ban on Iranian arms shipments.

Both Tehran and Damascus had pressured the Mediterranean island not to seize the munitions and, once it had, not to destroy them.

Mr Christofias, the European Union's only communist leader, had tried to placate Damascus and Tehran while simultaneously attempting to meet the demands of the United States and other Western powers. It was a risky diplomatic game which left Cyprus with no room to manoeuvre, the inquiry, headed solely by Mr Polyviou, found.

For two-and-a-half years, 98 containers of Iranian gunpowder and nitroglycerine were left exposed to wide temperature swings in an open field just 150 yards from Cyprus's main power station.

The blast crippled the Vassilikos plant - which met more than half the island's electricity needs -- deepened economic woes and fanned speculation that Cyprus would require a bailout from the European Union.

"The report is a first for Cyprus where the big fish are never held responsible," said Hubert Faustmann, a political analyst at the University of Nicosia. "Logically, Christofias should now resign. If he doesn't, he'll be even more of a lame-duck president than he already is."

The spokesman for Cyprus's main opposition Democratic Rally Party, Haris Georgiades, said: "He [Christofias] should resign and assume his responsibilities… or call early elections immediately and ask for a vote of confidence."

Mr Polyviou's conclusions are non-binding and Mr Christofias, who was elected with a five-year mandate in 2008, enjoys immunity from prosecution.

But the Cypriot president, a thin-skinned politician who portrays himself as a man of the people and is not used to being unpopular, will have been dismayed by the investigation's unsparing conclusions.

Mr Polyviou accused him of "unforgivable negligence" for allowing the munitions to be stored out in the open and not taking steps to avert the risks despite repeated warnings.

"It was a time-bomb left at the naval base until it exploded," Mr Polyviou told a news conference that was broadcast live on national television.

"The President of the Republic… failed to take elementary measures for the security of Cyprus's citizens," he said.

Appearing voluntarily before the inquiry last month, Mr Christofias said he was kept in the dark by his own ministers and aides about growing signs that storage of the munitions had become dangerous in the scorching July heat.

"I had told my cabinet … the president felt like a cheated husband, who was the last to know," Mr Christofias said.

But Mr Polyviou insisted he was convinced that the president was aware of the danger posed by the deteriorating arms cache: "Saying 'I don't know' is not enough."

A week before the explosion, some of the containers emitted a hissing sound as the explosives inside heated up.

Among the dead were 20-year-old twin brothers who had been ordered to hose down the metal containers to prevent them from overheating.

Mr Polyviou said that the president's defence and foreign ministers, who resigned after the blast, were also to blame.

Mr Polyviou said the ex-foreign minister, Marcos Kyprianou, put off UN weapons inspectors earlier this year who requested they be allowed to check the "actual state of the cargo".

"Within two minutes they would have realised the cargo was in a bad state," the lawyer said.

An editorial in today's English Cyprus Mail, wondered whether Mr Christofias, who had said he would respect the inquiry's findings, would now resign.

"Although, constitutionally, he cannot be forced to step down, he may eventually realise that the report has made his position untenable."

If you go

Flying

Despite the extreme distance, flying to Fairbanks is relatively simple, requiring just one transfer in Seattle, which can be reached directly from Dubai with Emirates for Dh6,800 return.

 

Touring

Gondwana Ecotours’ seven-day Polar Bear Adventure starts in Fairbanks in central Alaska before visiting Kaktovik and Utqiarvik on the North Slope. Polar bear viewing is highly likely in Kaktovik, with up to five two-hour boat tours included. Prices start from Dh11,500 per person, with all local flights, meals and accommodation included; gondwanaecotours.com 

MATCH SCHEDULE

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Tuesday, April 24 (10.45pm)

Liverpool v Roma

Wednesday, April 25
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid (10.45pm)

Europa League semi-final, first leg
Thursday, April 26

Arsenal v Atletico Madrid (11.05pm)
Marseille v Salzburg (11.05pm)

The biog

Name: Capt Shadia Khasif

Position: Head of the Criminal Registration Department at Hatta police

Family: Five sons and three daughters

The first female investigator in Hatta.

Role Model: Father

She believes that there is a solution to every problem

 

Eyasses squad

Charlie Preston (captain) – goal shooter/ goalkeeper (Dubai College)

Arushi Holt (vice-captain) – wing defence / centre (Jumeriah English Speaking School)

Olivia Petricola (vice-captain) – centre / wing attack (Dubai English Speaking College)

Isabel Affley – goalkeeper / goal defence (Dubai English Speaking College)

Jemma Eley – goal attack / wing attack (Dubai College)

Alana Farrell-Morton – centre / wing / defence / wing attack (Nord Anglia International School)

Molly Fuller – goal attack / wing attack (Dubai College)

Caitlin Gowdy – goal defence / wing defence (Dubai English Speaking College)

Noorulain Hussain – goal defence / wing defence (Dubai College)

Zahra Hussain-Gillani – goal defence / goalkeeper (British School Al Khubairat)

Claire Janssen – goal shooter / goal attack (Jumeriah English Speaking School)

Eliza Petricola – wing attack / centre (Dubai English Speaking College)

Your rights as an employee

The government has taken an increasingly tough line against companies that fail to pay employees on time. Three years ago, the Cabinet passed a decree allowing the government to halt the granting of work permits to companies with wage backlogs.

The new measures passed by the Cabinet in 2016 were an update to the Wage Protection System, which is in place to track whether a company pays its employees on time or not.

If wages are 10 days late, the new measures kick in and the company is alerted it is in breach of labour rules. If wages remain unpaid for a total of 16 days, the authorities can cancel work permits, effectively shutting off operations. Fines of up to Dh5,000 per unpaid employee follow after 60 days.

Despite those measures, late payments remain an issue, particularly in the construction sector. Smaller contractors, such as electrical, plumbing and fit-out businesses, often blame the bigger companies that hire them for wages being late.

The authorities have urged employees to report their companies at the labour ministry or Tawafuq service centres — there are 15 in Abu Dhabi.

The specs: 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Price, base: Dh138,000 (estimate)
Engine: 60kWh battery
Transmission: Single-speed Electronic Precision Shift
Power: 204hp
Torque: 360Nm
​​​​​​​Range: 520km (claimed)

MEDIEVIL (1998)

Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

Tips from the expert

Dobromir Radichkov, chief data officer at dubizzle and Bayut, offers a few tips for UAE residents looking to earn some cash from pre-loved items.

  1. Sellers should focus on providing high-quality used goods at attractive prices to buyers.
  2. It’s important to use clear and appealing photos, with catchy titles and detailed descriptions to capture the attention of prospective buyers.
  3. Try to advertise a realistic price to attract buyers looking for good deals, especially in the current environment where consumers are significantly more price-sensitive.
  4. Be creative and look around your home for valuable items that you no longer need but might be useful to others.
COMPANY PROFILE

Name: DarDoc
Based: Abu Dhabi
Founders: Samer Masri, Keswin Suresh
Sector: HealthTech
Total funding: $800,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, angel investors + Incubated by Hub71, Abu Dhabi's Department of Health
Number of employees: 10

FA CUP FINAL

Manchester City 6
(D Silva 26', Sterling 38', 81', 87', De Bruyne 61', Jesus 68')

Watford 0

Man of the match: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)

Race card

6.30pm: Emirates Holidays Maiden (TB), Dh82,500 (Dirt), 1,900m
7.05pm: Arabian Adventures Maiden (TB), Dh82,500 (D), 1,200m
7.40pm: Emirates Skywards Handicap (TB), Dh82,500 (D), 1,200m
8.15pm: Emirates Airline Conditions (TB), Dh120,000 (D), 1,400m
8.50pm: Emirates Sky Cargo (TB), Dh92,500 (D)1,400m
9.15pm: Emirates.com (TB), Dh95,000 (D), 2,000m

The biog

From: Upper Egypt

Age: 78

Family: a daughter in Egypt; a son in Dubai and his wife, Nabila

Favourite Abu Dhabi activity: walking near to Emirates Palace

Favourite building in Abu Dhabi: Emirates Palace

UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Gold
Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Silver
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Bronze
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg

Greatest Royal Rumble match listing

50-man Royal Rumble - names entered so far include Braun Strowman, Daniel Bryan, Kurt Angle, Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho, The New Day and Elias

Universal Championship Brock Lesnar (champion) v Roman Reigns in a steel cage match

WWE World Heavyweight ChampionshipAJ Styles (champion) v Shinsuke Nakamura

Intercontinental Championship Seth Rollins (champion) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe

United States Championship Jeff Hardy (champion) v Jinder Mahal

SmackDown Tag Team Championship The Bludgeon Brothers (champions) v The Usos

Raw Tag Team Championship (currently vacant) Cesaro and Sheamus v Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt

Casket match The Undertaker v Rusev

Singles match John Cena v Triple H

Cruiserweight Championship Cedric Alexander v Kalisto

Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier

From September 18-25, Abu Dhabi . The two finalists advance to the main event in South Africa in February 2023

Group A: United States, Ireland, Scotland, Bangladesh
Group B: UAE, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Papua New Guinea

UAE group fixtures:
Sept 18, 3pm, Zayed Cricket Stadium – UAE v Thailand
Sept 19, 3pm, Tolerance Oval - PNG v UAE
Sept 21, 7pm, Tolerance Oval – UAE v Zimbabwe

UAE squad: Chaya Mughal (captain), Esha Oza, Kavisha Kumari, Rinitha Rajith, Rithika Rajith, Khushi Sharma, Theertha Satish, Lavanya Keny, Priyanjali Jain, Suraksha Kotte, Natasha Cherriath, Indhuja Nandakumar, Vaishnave Mahesh, Siya Gokhale, Samaira Dharnidharka

The specs

Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder
Power: 153hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 200Nm at 4,000rpm
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 6.3L/100km
Price: Dh106,900
On sale: now

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Switch Foods
Started: 2022
Founder: Edward Hamod
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Plant-based meat production
Number of employees: 34
Funding: $6.5 million
Funding round: Seed
Investors: Based in US and across Middle East

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Company profile

Company: POPC
Started: 2022
Founders: Amna Aijaz, Haroon Tahir and Arafat Ali Khan
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: art and e-commerce
Funds raised: undisclosed amount raised through Waverider Entertainment


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