Page last updated at 10:24 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Cyprus former president's stolen corpse found

The grave of former president of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos after his corpse was stolen - 11 December 2009
No-one has yet said they stole the ex-president's corpse

Police in Cyprus have confirmed they have found the body of former President Tassos Papadopoulos, three months after it was snatched from its grave.

Remains thought to be those of the ex-president had been discovered at a Nicosia cemetery following a tip-off.

DNA tests have now confirmed it was Mr Papadopoulos' body, police on the Mediterranean island said.

He was president from 2003 to February 2008 and died in December 2008. It is unclear why his body was stolen.

The BBC's Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia said Cypriots were completely baffled by the crime as there appeared to be no motive.

Ransom speculation

Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos told Reuters news agency: "We have received the DNA test results and the body is that of the late president."

The spokesman said the body had been found in a cemetery in a Nicosia suburb, but gave no further details.

The body was stolen on 11 December last year, one day before a memorial service was to be held to mark the first anniversary of his death from lung cancer.

Police had described the theft as "deliberate and carefully planned", with a marble slab weighing 250kg (40st) lifted to dig up the grave.

Our correspondent says there had been speculation the thieves wanted a ransom but the Papadopoulos family denied ever receiving any demands, so police are no closer to solving the crime.

Papadopoulos made many enemies during a long and eventful political career, after fighting British colonial rule in a guerrilla group.

He led Greek Cypriots in rejecting a UN plan to reunite the divided island. Turkish Cypriots voted in a simultaneous referendum to back the plan, but it failed. Cyprus went on to join the EU, but the Turkish north remains effectively excluded.

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