Army under spotlight after 3 accidents in 13 months

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The National Guard is under the spotlight following two fatal accidents and one serious injury involving non-commissioned officers during military exercises in just over a year.

Earlier this week, a non-commissioned National Guard officer was seriously injured after jumping from a helicopter during a military search and rescue exercise.

A month earlier, Corporal Natalie Neophytou, 27, was killed after an army jeep she was a passenger in overturned and landed on her.

Neophytou was accompanying a soldier and another officer to fill up the jeep with fuel following a military exercise.

A year earlier, on 25 May 2021, a 32-year-old army officer, Xanthos Kyriakou, fell to his death while trying to descend from a cliff using a climbing rope, which appears to have snapped.

Kyriakou was participating in a search and rescue exercise at the time of the accident.

Criminal investigations into the deaths of two army officers by the police have been concluded with findings to be handed to the Legal Services to decide whether criminal responsibility burdens the National Guard.

The victims’ families argue the National Guard has a duty of care to ensure that their loved ones return from exercises safe and sound.

Reportedly, the investigation into the death of Kyriakou has been completed by investigating officers of the Limassol Criminal Investigation Department and handed to police headquarters.

Police HQ has reportedly sent the file back requesting more details on the duties of officers involved in the exercise.

The death of the captain occurred during an exercise in the area of Trooditissa when the rope with which he tried to climb down a cliff snapped. As it turned out, the rope was worn.

In the case of Natalie Neophytou, reports say that investigators will soon be submitting their findings to the prosecution service.

On 12 May, Neophytou was tragically killed when the open-top jeep she was riding overturned outside a camp in Kornos, Larnaca, crushing her to death.

Police did not investigate it as a traffic accident as it was off-road, but the investigation was based on articles of the Penal Code and covered people responsible for the training exercise.

The Defence Ministry said the National Guard had launched a probe into the accident involving a 27-year-old commando injured after jumping from a helicopter during a military search and rescue exercise.

After Monday’s incident, the officer is being treated with multiple spine fractures and brain swelling.

He is being treated at Nicosia General’s Intensive Care Unit.

He was injured when he attempted to jump out of a helicopter into the sea as part of the exercise taking place off Lara beach in Paphos.