Cyprus Mail

Minister calls for speedier identification of the missing

DEFENCE Minister Fotis Fotiou on Saturday called for the process of identifying all the missing persons from the 1974 Turkish invasion to be sped up.

The government is seeking to accelerate the investigation and verification of all the missing persons from 1974 according to the minister. Fotiou said he hopes the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) will help bring an end to the pain felt by the missing persons’ families as soon as possible.

The minister was speaking at a church in Anthouplis for the funeral of Demetris Sergiou who was killed during the invasion.

Sergiou’s remains were identified using DNA testing.

“The government would like to pay homage and pledge to the relatives of all the missing persons that it will continue the full investigation and verification of their loved ones’ fate by the committee,” he said.

“During the invasion, Sergiou served in the 33rd commando squadron, based in Bellapais and amongst the missions that he participated in was the retaking of the hill of Ayios Ilarion,” the minister explained.

According to reports, on the morning of July 22 1974, his unit moved towards Kyrenia to assist in curbing the Turkish invasion troops and along with other soldiers manned National Guard posts one kilometre outside the village until noon of the same day.

That was the last anyone had heard from Sergiou until his remains were identified recently.

It was revealed last week that the remains of 72 missing persons had been identified during the first six months of 2013.

The CMP said since 2006, the average number of identified missing persons per year was 56.

The highest number of identifications was recorded in 2009 when 86 missing persons were identified and their remains returned to their families.

According to the committee, people are still coming forward with new information on missing persons. They called on anyone who has information to come forward, promising full confidentiality.

Since 2006, 983 human remains have been recovered, corresponding to 49 per cent of all missing persons on the official list concerning both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

From the 983 remains found, 409 were identified and returned to their families, counting for over 20 per cent of the total number of missing.

From those returned, 388 were Greek Cypriot missing persons with 71 of them Turkish Cypriot.

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