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Cyprus in shock as media mogul gunned down

hatziCypriot President Demetris Christofias ordered police to pull out all the stops on Tuesday to find the culprits in the murder of a media mogul just 100 metres (yards) from the heavily guarded US embassy.
“Such an act can only be described as monstrous,” Christofias told reporters.
“I want to believe, and I do believe that the police will exhaust every possibility to solve this brutal crime.”
Antis Hadjicostis was shot dead outside his home on Monday night in what police believe was a professional hit, his Sigma TV channel reported.
Christofias said he had a “very good” relationship with the Hadjicostis family, which made his “grief” that much worse.
The Cyprus president took time out from UN-led reunification talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which had just stepped up a gear on Monday, to visit the bereaved family and give his condolences.
Hadjicostis, 42, was CEO of the Dias media group — one of the island’s largest — which owns the Sigma TV channel, radio Proto, daily newspaper Simerini and other publications.
Sigma interrupted its programmes to announce the killing of the father-of-two, who was ambushed by two men while getting out of his car and shot twice at close range, in the chest and the back.
No shell casings were found at the scene, said police, who declined to speculate on the motives.
One person was waiting for him outside his home, while another was on a high-powered bike nearby to ensure a quick getaway, according to witnesses.
A post-mortem carried out on Tuesday by state pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous concluded that the two shot wounds were inflicted by a hunting gun. He said that death would have been instantaneous.
The Dias media empire is owned by Antis’s tycoon father Costis Hadjicostis who has one other older son.
The group has been highly critical of Christofias’s negotiating position in the talks on ending the Mediterranean island’s 36-year division.
It was a staunch supporter of his hardline predecessor Tassos Papadopoulos who led Greek Cypriots in voting down a UN reunification plan in 2004.
But Hadjicostis himself was not known for his interest in Cyprus politics, concentrating instead on expanding his business empire.
The shooting happened at around 8:45 pm (1845 GMT), 100 metres (100 yards) from the heavily guarded US embassy in the capital Nicosia.
The motive for the killing is unknown but attacks on media figures are rare in Cyprus. Sigma called it an “unprecedented and shocking crime”.
Daily newspaper Politis said the killing had a financial motive behind it, while others have suggested it could be linked to the bizarre body snatching of former president Papadopoulos.
Papadopoulos’s grave was violated on December 12 and police are still struggling to find any hard leads.
Simerini newspaper said the Dias group would not “bow to terrorism” and said the “cold-blooded” crime came at a crucial juncture for the Cyprus problem.
Cyprus’s Archbishop Chrysostomos II said the shooting was an “attack on democracy”.
Politicians, press organisations, family and friends have inundated TV and radio shows to convey their respects and express horror and disbelief over the attack.
Forensic expert Marios Matsakis attended the post-mortem on behalf of the family and said: “This incident has shocked the whole of Cypriot society and beyond the boundaries of Cyprus.”
(source: AFP)

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