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New Evidence in Archbishop Tombs Case

In a new development in the suspected grave robbing of deceased church leaders, police said that they have arrested a 43-year-old Rumanian man in Nicosia on suspicion of desecrating graves belonging to three past Archbishops.

The suspect has mental health problems, said police chief Kypros Michaelides, adding that the man has come to the attention of authorities in the past because of his obssessive grudge against the Orthodox Church. The suspect has admitted to removing the tombstones from the graves of Kyrillos II, Kyrillos III and Sofroniou III, said police, adding that it is not confirmed when the actual thefts in Nicosia took place. The Rumanian has denied stealing any ossuaries containing bones from the tombs.

Earlier today, investigators ruled out the possibility that the remains of another church leader were stolen last night, saying that according to their investigation, the bones of Archbishop Kyrillou II had been removed in the distant past by the Church, and that his tomb in Nicosia is symbolic. Sofroniou III's remains may also have been removed in the past, said police, who are still investigating the situation. Six Archbishops are buried in Ayios Spiridonos cemetary in Nicosia.

There has been some confusion as to whether it is a case of grave robbing or simple vandalism in the wake of another high-profile case in which former president Tassos Papadopoulos' remains were stolen from his grave. The alleged perpetrators, convicted murderer Antonis Prokopiou Kitas and his brother, tried to extort money from Papadopoulos' family in exchange for information about the location of his remains, which were recovered on March 9th. The macabre crime was followed by a series of malicious damage in different cemetaries in Nicosia and Limassol in which the grave of former president Spyros Kyprianou was also targeted.

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