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Cyprus devastated by sudden death of defence minister

22 March, 2014

Cyprus has been devastated from the news that defence minister Tasos Mitsopoulos died on Saturday having been hospitalised a day earlier with a brain hemorrhage.

“Defence Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos' state of health showed further deterioration and despite all the efforts, the patient succumbed at 1.30pm,” said Nicosia General Hospital ICU Director Theodoros Kyprianou.

Politicians and associates who had gathered at the hospital since Friday when Mitsopoulos was initially rushed praised his unique and kind character. The council of ministers headed by President Nicos Anastasiades was to decide later on Saturday how to honour the minister and former member of parliament, while his own Democratic Rally party (DISY), member of the European People's Party (EPP), has cancelled all events for three days.

The defence minister's health deteriorated overnight with hospital doctors saying on Saturday morning it was “irreversible”.

President  Anastasiades, who cut short his meeting at the European leaders' summit in Brussels on Friday to be by the side of his 48-year-old protege, returned to the hospital on Saturday morning to be briefed by the physicians and his close political aides, as well as the minister's wife, journalist Katerina Vati.

Mitsopoulos was found lying in his office by his staff on Friday morning and was rushed to hospital. He had just received the Greek ambassador and was about to see the U.S. ambassador.

Doctors said he suffered a ruptured aneurysm and brain hemorrhage. He was operated to relieve the pressure on his brain, but remained in a critical situation.

Specialist surgeons were flown in from Israel and Greece, two countries with which Cyprus enjoys very close relations in all fields.

Mitsopoulos had undertaken his new portfolio having served as Transport Minister for a year. He had been a very close associate to the president and had been his spokesman for more than a decade.

A distraught President Anastasiades said he felt “like anyone who felt he was losing such a close person.”