NICOSIA (Reuters) - A court in Cyprus jailed three men for up to 20 months Monday for snatching the remains of late Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos from his grave.
The defendants, two Greek Cypriot brothers and an Indian national, were found guilty of illegal entry into a burial ground and exhuming a body, in a crime which shocked the east Mediterranean island.
Papadopoulos’s grave was opened and his body snatched in late 2009 and hidden at another cemetery in suburban Nicosia, the island’s capital.
The court ruled one of the defendants had asked his brother to dig up the remains, hoping he could negotiate his own release from prison where he is serving two life sentences for murder.
Police discovered the corpse three months later when the Indian defendant contacted Papadopoulos’s family asking for money, and saying he felt remorse. He was jailed for a total of 18 months and the Greek Cypriot brothers for 20 months each.
Under Cypriot law, violating a grave — a crime virtually unheard of until the Papadopoulos incident — is considered a misdemeanor.
Papadopoulos died of lung cancer at the age of 74 in December 2008. He died less than a year after losing a bid for re-election to President Demetris Christofias.
He was best known for his vigorous campaign against a United Nations reunification blueprint for ethnically-split Cyprus in 2004.