Cyprus jails 3 for snatching ex-president's body

Cyprus jails 3 for snatching ex-president's body

Sabrjit Singh was handed an 18-month sentence and Cypriot brothers Antonis Prokopiou Kitas and Mamas Kitas received 20 months each, the criminal court said.

They were found guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime, exhuming a corpse without a court order and trespass, but more serious charges of blackmail and extortion were dropped.
Singh had initially been charged with attempting to extract 100,000 euros (about USD 140,000) from the Papadopoulos family to divulge the location of his body after it was dug up in Kato Deftera cemetery on December 11, 2009.

The trio were arrested after Papadopoulos's body was found at another Nicosia graveyard five kilometres from its original resting place on March 8, 2010 -- buried in an already occupied grave.

His body was stolen from inside his coffin one day before a memorial service was due to be held to mark the first anniversary of his death from cancer.

Antonis Prokopiou Kitas, who is already serving a life sentence for double murder and rape, is considered to have masterminded the robbery by mobile phone from his cell at Nicosia Central Prison.

The court heard that he sought the body snatching as a bargaining chip to gain his freedom from prison and requested his brother carry out the crime.

Singh and Mamas Kitas were taken into custody in March 2010, and their time spent in remand counts as part of their sentences.

During his five-year term in office, Papadopoulos made political enemies and earned a reputation as a hardliner, leading Greek Cypriots in rejecting a UN plan to reunify the island with the Turkish Cypriots in the north.