Grave robbers steal former Cyprus president's remains

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Drone Bee
Nov 30, 2008
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Cyprus and Greece
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Grave robbers steal former Cyprus president's remains
Police investigate the grave of Tassos Papadopoulos in Nicosia, 11 December 2009
The theft was discovered by one of the former leader's guards on Friday

Thieves have stolen the remains of Tassos Papadopoulos, the former president of the Republic of Cyprus, police say.

Mr Papadopoulos' body was removed after his grave in Nicosia was broken into overnight, officials said.

Mr Papadopoulos died of lung cancer in Nicosia in 2008, aged 74.

The theft from the Deftera village cemetery in Nicosia was discovered a day before the first anniversary of his death.

The desecration was discovered by one of Mr Papadopoulos's former guards who lights a candle in the cemetery every morning, the official Cyprus News Agency reports.

The robbers are thought to have worked during torrential rain overnight, lifting a marble slab weighing 250kg before unearthing the coffin and removing the corpse.

The theft has been widely condemned. Republic of Cyprus President Demetris Christofias described it as "sacrilege".

"It is an immoral and condemnable act which is a blight to our culture and respect for our dead," said Mr Christofias on the sidelines of the European Council summit in Brussels.

Achieved prominence in the political wing of the right-wing paramilitary group EOKA
Became youngest government minister, aged 24, in 1959 after independence from British rule
Occupied several ministerial positions, before narrowly winning the presidential election in 2003
Lost a bid for a second term as president in February 2008, before dying in December 2008

Marios Garoyan, leader of the former president's centre-right Diko party, condemned the act as a "heinous and terrible crime", AFP reported.

Andros Kyprianou, the head of Cyprus' ruling Akel party, described it as "macabre and utterly condemnable".

"I am honestly still trying to comprehend what kind of warped minds could even think of doing such a thing, let alone actually carry it out," he said.

The motive for the theft remains unclear, investigators say. But it is bound to stir up passions over a UN-led peace effort aimed at reuniting the Turkish and Greek parts of the island, says the BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens.

Mr Papadopoulos was vehemently opposed to the peace plan, and his eloquence and anger convinced a resounding majority of Greek Cypriots to vote against it in a referendum, while Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly in favour.

A veteran of Greek Cypriot politics, he became president in 2003 but lost a bid for a second term in 2008. He was defeated by Demetris Christofias, a former coalition partner.

One of the former president's achievements was to oversee the Republic of Cyprus's entry into the European Union in 2004.
President's body found in another grave

POLICE on Tuesday confirmed that the remains they found in a Nicosia cemetery on Monday night were those of former president Tassos Papadopoulos.

“A body was located in a cemetery in Nicosia, which, based on all indications so far, possibly belongs to former president Tassos Papadopoulos,” police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said on Monday night.

On Tuesday morning he confirmed. "There has been a DNA identification and the body indeed belongs to the former president," he added.

The identification process was carried out at the Cyprus Institute of Genetics and Neurology,

The body was discovered after a tip-off at a cemetery near Tseri, not too far from where he was originally buried in Deftera.
Ransom paid?

It seems that it was thought up by a lifer in jail and they asked for 300,000 in ransom to reveal the whereabouts of the remains. The family say that they didn't pay anything - the minister of justice says that they did and went on to say that he is not a liar........!
The jail was described yesterday by a MP as an incubator for producing unhesitating criminals who would do anything to make money or get favours.......
Best regards
Profile of the criminal behind the body snatch:-

DAYS after being drafted into the National Guard, Antonis Prokopiou Kitas, better known as ‘Al Capone’, went AWOL taking his army-issued rifle with him.

Kitas had joined the commandos – unit of the ‘hard cases’, especially back in the day.

But the devil-may-care attitude soon gave way revealing Kitas’ true nature. Tragically, that was not before he had murdered and raped two women, resulting in his conviction and sentencing to life imprisonment in 1994.

Psychiatrist Yiangos Mikellides, who was working for the state psychiatric services in the 1980s, recalls the army incident. He unequivocally calls Kitas a psychopath.

“He has no moral inhibitions, no remorse. It’s in his DNA,” he told the Sunday Mail.

Mikellides dismissed the notion that Kitas’ upbringing may have played a part in his turning into a psychopathic killer:

“As far as I know, his father was an OK fellow. There’s nothing to suggest Kitas was raised badly. The man has severe personality disorder. He has no control over his emotions.”

A psychiatric evaluation of Kitas carried out during his murder trial in 1994 noted: “His psychic condition allows him to comprehend and communicate normally. He is fully cognisant of, and is responsible for, his actions and their consequences.”

Kitas himself never played the insanity card.

It’s an assessment with which forensic pathologist Marios Matsakis agrees with.

Matsakis served as the forensic expert and key witness for the prosecution in Kitas’ trial for the murder of 28-year-old Christina Ahfeldt in 1993. She was raped, battered to death and buried at the Kotsiatis dumpsite.

Though not a qualified psychiatrist, he also believes that Kitas is fully aware of his actions – but simply doesn’t care.

“Yes I remember he was deemed fit to stand trial. How would I describe him? He’s a monster in human form, a sadistic animal,” Matsakis told the Sunday Mail.

“He’s got a sick criminal mind: no conscience, no compunction, no morality, and no respect for human life.”

Matsakis recalls Kitas’ reaction - or lack thereof - while testifying in court.

“I was describing the crime in gory detail…everyone in court was of course shocked, but he just sat there, looking indifferent.”

Yet despite Kitas being constantly in the news - most recently over the theft of the former president’s remains – Matsakis does not believe the lifer to be a criminal genius.

“Neither is he simple-minded. Bottom line, this man is not fit to live among other human beings. My opinion is that he cannot be rehabilitated. He’s a danger to society. They should lock him up and throw away the key.

“And I say this fully aware of the risks,” Matsakis added, noting that during the 1994 trial he received death threats from persons unknown.

Nonetheless, it is precisely while “behind bars” that Kitas has pulled off some of his more astounding capers.

“That’s why I say criminals such as these should be put in isolation for the rest of their lives. Instead, he’s been allowed to roam freely. This is not the Central Prisons, it’s the Central Hilton,” Matsakis said.

The convict has a history of attempted escapes. In 1986, Kitas was serving a sentence in the prison’s juvenile wing when he and four other inmates broke out from the open prison. He was later caught and returned to complete his term.

On 13 October 1993 he escaped police custody, after being arrested for a jewellery shop robbery. Police took him to his house in Athienou because he wanted to get a change of clothes, but when they arrived there Kitas bolted from a back door. He was later recaptured.

While under arrest for the robbery, Kitas fed police information regarding two women who had gone missing that year, Ahfeldt, 28, and Oksana Lisna, 20.

First Kitas said he had information about Ahfeldt, a Swedish mother of two living in Ayia Napa, where she was married to a Cypriot nightclub owner.

Kitas volunteered to help police find her body, which was finally discovered in the landfill rubbish site at Kotsiatis.

Day after day in the stinking heat, police and municipal workers – most of them wearing masks in a futile attempt to mask the stench - trawled through pile upon pile of rubbish with diggers. Supposedly directing operations was Kitas, often dressed in his trademark, baggy pyjama-style trousers, and apparently thoroughly enjoying all the attention. It took 29 days before Ahfeldt’s badly decomposed body was finally uncovered.

By then Kitas was prime suspect and he was charged along with Michalis Iakovides of kidnapping, raping and strangling the 28-year-old before dumping her body.

The pair was also found guilty of abducting, raping and strangling Lisna, a 20-year-old Ukrainian dancer who worked in Ayia Napa. Her body was found dumped at the bottom of a well in Larnaca. Equally tragic, no family member ever came to claim her body and her final resting place is a grave in a corner of a Larnaca cemetery.

Before he and his accomplice were sentenced in 1994, Kitas’ behaviour in court turned increasingly bizarre. He frequently announced he was going on hunger strikes, which always proved short-lived. He appeared in court with his pyjama trousers sodden with urine, and he once attempted to commit suicide by swallowing razor blades.

Snarling at reporters and prone to outbursts while in policy custody, Kitas was not one to merit a congeniality award. In one instance, he told a journalist point-blank to ‘f*** off’ for having looked at him the wrong way.

The escapes saga resumed in March 1999 when a prison warden was arrested after ‘Capone’ bribed him to help him break out of jail.

In April 2006 Kitas married a Chinese national at Aradippou town hall.

In December 2008 he fled from Nicosia’s Apollonion hospital, where he had been staying for six months, apparently recuperating from gastric reflux. Capone was paying for his treatment privately. A private room, excluding medical costs, is around €250 a day, which would have amounted to a total in the region of €45,000. Prison authorities said at the time it was not within their jurisdiction to investigate where a convict got the money to pay for treatment. It is widely believed, however, that Kitas was able to finance this with cash raised from betting.

In the early morning hours of December 12, Kitas fled from his hospital room. Hours later, he was involved in a shootout with police in Nicosia during which he suffered a gunshot.

He stayed on the run for almost a month, and was finally recaptured on January 5, 2009.

Journalist Michele Kambas, who covered the Kitas murder trial in 1994, recalls her impressions

At first I thought Kitas was just another petty criminal. Nobody took him seriously. That changed the day police found Oksana Lisna's body at the well in Larnaca. Kitas was led there, journalists in tow, and we all thought it was a wild goose chase. He appeared to relish the media attention and spoke to many journalists.

That changed when I peered into the well, broken open by a digger, and saw a crumpled lifeless body in the pit, hollow eyes just staring straight out at me. Oksana lay in muddy water, but her outline was very clear. The digger had ripped off her arm.

When police suspicions turned on Kitas for Lisna's killing and that of Christine Ahfeldt, his behaviour changed. His mood would swing from being a bit of a friendly joker to being quite menacing. He would frequently lash out at journalists in court and had a habit of making threatening comments to female reporters. On one occasion he swore at me after passing a comment which I neither understood nor responded to.

Thoughout his trial, he never showed any remorse and appeared quite oblivious to the enormity of what he had done.

In retrospect, the media also focussed too much on Kitas’ shenanigans - going ballistic in court because he was not allowed to see his then Romanian wife, and his repeated hunger strikes - rather than what he had done to his two victims and their families.
More graves dug up

A 43-YEAR-OLD Romanian man who allegedly vandalised the graves of three Archbishops on Sunday has been ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment in a state facility, officials said yesterday.

Police said the suspect had admitted to removing the marble slabs from the graves of Sofronios III, Kyrillos II and Kyrillos III at the Ayios Spyridonas cemetery in central Nicosia.

The vandalism was discovered early on Sunday morning after police and fire fighters responded to a fire at the cemetery.

At first authorities thought they were faced with the theft of the Archbishops’ remains, just a couple of weeks after the corpse of former president Tassos Papadopoulos was recovered.

But it later transpired that the Church had reburied the remains of Kyrillos II years ago in his birth village of Prodromos while the remains of Kyrillos III were left undisturbed.

Police are still trying to determine whether the remains of Sofronios III were also transferred elsewhere.

The man was arrested later Sunday, after he visited the Lycavitos police station, which is next to the cemetery.

“He rang the bell and when he entered the station he hurled a bag with human excrement at the officers before trying to flee,” police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said.

He was arrested and admitted to police officers that he was the one who moved the plaques from the graves, Katsounotos said.

The suspect claims he has not removed the remains.

Katsounotos said the suspect has been on the island for a while now and police have dealt with him before for similar issues.

Police said the man seems to have a problem with the Church and holy places.

Reports said that in the past he had soiled two Nicosia churches with human excrement.

Justice Minister Loucas Louca said the incident cannot be compared to the theft of Papadopoulos’ corpse.

“We are dealing with a problematic foreigner who carried out this sacrilegious act,” Louca said. “Fortunately the case was resolved immediately to avoid the creation of an unpleasant climate.”


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