Deftera (Cyprus): A sombre memorial service was held on Saturday for Cyprus's former president, Tassos Papadopoulos, a day after thieves stole his remains from his grave in a crime that shocked the Mediterranean island.
Tomb raiders used the cover of darkness, a heavy thunderstorm and a power cut to dig up the ex-president and steal his body without leaving any clues behind them.
Despite their outrage, the Papadopoulos family insisted the memorial service go ahead as planned a year after the president died of lung cancer at age 74.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II, head of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, led the service at St Nicholas church in suburban Deftera and the vandalised grave site in the same village was also blessed.
Hundreds of citizens and politicians also paid their respects at churches across the island to mark the anniversary.
Three people were questioned yesterday in connection with the incident but later released without charge.
Reports say they were questioned after a military vehicle was spotted outside the cemetery.
Although police have little to go on, today's Phileleftheros daily said there are two scenarios the authorities are looking at.
One involves the possibility of an extremist group having a hand in the macabre incident for the sole purpose of stirring up trouble and side-tracking the peace process. The other is that the crime could be the work of professional tomb raiders seeking a ransom from the family.
First Published: Saturday, December 12, 2009, 21:33