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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 21:31 GMT 22:31 UK
MEP arrested at UK base in Cyprus
Marios Matsakis escorted by police officers
Marios Matsakis has campaigned against UK presence on Cyprus
A Greek-Cypriot MEP has been arrested at one of the two British sovereign military bases on Cyprus.

Marios Matsakis was taken into custody on a visit to Akrotiri base as part of an official European Parliament group.

The MEP, who opposes the UK presence on the island, recently refused to pay a 300 fine after being found guilty of causing criminal damage at the base.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed police had made an arrest in connection with outstanding warrants.

'Rise to bait'

British Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies has complained to the MoD about the arrest of Mr Matsakis, who is a member of the Liberal Group in the European Parliament.

A trivial matter will now become a major political issue threatening relations between Cyprus and Britain
Chris Davies MEP

Mr Davies said: "It may well be that Marios stuck his thumb up at the British authorities, but it was inept of them to rise to the bait.

"As a result, a trivial matter will now become a major political issue threatening relations between Cyprus and Britain."

He said many people would sympathise with Mr Matsakis's position.

"It is outrageous that in the 21st century there are Cypriot villages living under British military rule, neither under their own government's jurisdiction nor under the protection of the EU treaties," said Mr Davies.

Spray-painting jeep

The UK retained two strategic bases - Akrotiri and Dhekelia - including surrounding villages, which come under British jurisdiction, after Cyprus gained independence.

Mr Matsakis was found guilty of criminal damage including spray-painting a military jeep and chaining himself to a military antenna.

Mr Matsakis has refused to pay 500 bail and is in prison ahead of an appearance before a British military court next week.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We can confirm that a man was today arrested by police within the Sovereign Base Area of Cyprus, in connection with outstanding warrants relating to alleged acts of criminal damage.

"The warrants relate to a non-appearance in court for a hearing on incidents which took place in the summer of 2006."

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24 Feb 03 |  Europe

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