Cyprus president's grave robbed

The body of former President Tassos Papadopoulos has been stolen from its grave, police in Cyprus said today.

The robbery was discovered a day before the first anniversary of Mr Papadopoulos’s death.

Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said officers were investigating the theft from the Deftera village cemetery in the Cypriot capital, Nicosia.

Investigators believe the body was taken either late last night or early this morning. The motive is unclear.

Mr Papadopoulos died a year ago tomorrow from lung cancer, aged 74. He served as president from 2003 until March 2008, when he was defeated in a vote.

Mounds of freshly dug-up earth lay at the site of the robbery today. Police investigators cordoned off the area and were searching the site.

Mr Papadopoulos was a hardline president who ushered the ethnically divided island into the European Union after rallying Greek Cypriots to reject a United Nations-brokered peace deal.

A British-trained lawyer, he was a veteran of Cyprus politics whose career spanned most of the island’s turbulent history since gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

He was a leader of the Greek Cypriot guerrilla group EOKA, which waged an anti-colonial campaign, and served as the youngest cabinet minister in the island’s first post-independence government, at the age of 26.

Mr Papadopoulos was for a time the chief Greek Cypriot negotiator in settlement talks with the breakaway Turkish Cypriots after 1974, when Turkey invaded the island in response to a coup by supporters of uniting the island with Greece.

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