AUTHORITIES on Monday started exhuming the unidentified remains of people killed during the July 1974 coup from a mass grave at a Nicosia cemetery.
It is believed that 24 people were buried in the grave at the Constantinou and Elenis cemetery, but the remains were never identified.
“They came with an excavator dug the ground and then a truck came and dumped them in,” said a man, 16 at the time, who went looking for his father at the cemetery.
The majority of those buried were people who fought against the coupists trying to overthrow president Makarios.
However, included in the list is a seven-year-old girl killed by a stray bullet that hit her in the heart. It is said that she had been standing on the veranda of her house when she was shot.
“The aim of this effort is to deliver the identified remains of their loved ones to each family so that they attribute the due honours,” said Fotis Fotiou, commissioner for humanitarian matters.
He added that the exhumation and identification procedure would take several weeks.
The exhumation started after a memorial service.
“Today, we are expressing our gratitude for their huge contribution to their suffering country whose entity they defended and safeguarded,” Fotiou said.