MEMORIAL services and marches are being held to mark the one-year anniversary since the devastating Mari explosion killed 13 firemen and sailors on July 11 last year.
“Over the loss of human life, the events have shattered trust between the public and the state, whose omissions and weaknesses over the years, its bureaucratic distortions and structures, have led to an inability to handle a difficult situation,” Labour Minister Sotiroula Charalambous said on Sunday.
She was speaking at the memorial service of 19-year-old Antonis Charalambous, the 13th victim claimed by the blast.
Charalambous said that people needed to let justice prevail in the courts.
She was referring to a criminal investigation by the police launched after the Mari events and completed last October, which has resulted in the prosecution of former ministers and high ranking state officials.
“We must take care to secure society’s unity and cohesion, in the light of a difficult time, given serious political, financial challenges which we are facing. We must find as a people what unites us,” she said.
At Vasilis Krokos’ memorial service, 29, police chief Michalis Papageorgiou said that “we must never forget these people because they lost their lives and we are trying to be professional so that this thing does not happen again.”
Also paying their respects was a group formed in memory of the victims that has been marching since Saturday when it set off from Nicosia.
“If those ruling feel that people remember, justice will be served and those that should, will be punished for the 13 people killed,” said the marchers’ coordinator, Andreas Onisiforou.
The last leg of the march will be tomorrow as the marchers return from Mari to Nicosia and end at the presidential palace where thousands protested last year against the government and President Demetris Christofias.
The deaths were caused when 98 containers with munitions exploded at Evangelos Florakis naval base close to the village of Mari in Larnaca.
The containers had been left exposed to the elements for over two years. Cyprus’ main power station – delivering over half of the island’s energy needs – was damaged in the explosion, creating rolling power cuts for about a month.