Ex-Cyprus president corpse stolen

NICOSIA: Thieves have stolen the corpse of Tassos Papadopoulos, the former president of the Republic of Cyprus, police say.

Papadopoulos’ body was removed after his grave in Nicosia was broken into overnight, officials said. 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 theft has been widely condemned. 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.

Kypros Chrysostomides, who served as justice

minister under Papadopoulos, said “such barbarous acts only do damage to Cyprus”.

The motive for the theft remains unclear, investigators say. But it is bound to stir up passions over an UN-led peace effort aimed at reuniting theTurkish and Greek parts of the island.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.