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Memorial services for victims of Cyprus Helios air crash.

The annual memorial service at Grammatiko, near Athens, for the 121 people killed after a Helios Boeing 737 crashed, was held on Tuesday with relatives still questioning why seven years later, there has been no justice done.

On August 14, 2005, the Helios 737-300, en route from Larnaca to Prague via Athens, crashed intothe mountain north of Athens, and claimed the lives of all 121 people on board, most of them Cypriots going on holiday.

Niki Michaelidou, widow of one of the victims, thanked the Marathona authority officials and people who gathered at the church erected at the site of the accident to remember those who perished. "You cannot understand what I am going through", said a father for his lost son. "Seven years we keep returning to this place because this accident was unique. Accidents happen, but never such accident that is solely due to people's remorselessness.

In Cyprus, at the church of Apostolos Markos in Paralimni, Famagusta District, the Helios Victims Relatives Committee held a memorial service for the three families perished during the accident.

In remarks, the President of the Committee, Nicolas Yasoumi, told CNA that seven years on "and there is nothing yet. It's like we are at the starting point. The relatives are reliving the same drama when the accident occurred".

It seems, he said, that although court proceedings continue, "justice is not blind, but non-existent, especially in the Cyprus courts. We cannot have one court ruling in Greece condemning the defendants and another in Cyprus it acquits them", he added.

On April 20, a Greek court sentenced four employees of the defunct Helios Airways, for their part in the 2005 plane crash. Former Helios CEO Demetris Pantazis, Operations Manager George Kikides, Chief pilot Ianko Stoimenov, and engineer Alain Irwin were found guilty of manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years in jail.

In Cyprus, however, the Assize Court on 21 December 2011, acquitted five defendants, (the above-mentioned five andAndreas Drakos, Executive Director of Helios) accused of manslaughter in connection with the fatal air crash.

The Court ruled by majority (two to one) that there was not sufficient evidence linking the defendants to the air crash and as such they bear no responsibility for the crash. Judge Nicolas Santis has expressed his dissent with the decision.

Attorney-General Petros Clerides filed on 3 January this year an appeal to the Supreme Court against the Assize Court's majority ruling to acquit the five defendants.

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Publication:Financial Mirror (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:4EXCY
Date:Aug 14, 2012
Words:421
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