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Support grows for Turkish Cypriot couple prosecuted over Cyprus flag

The couple were charged with 'disturbing the peace' for flying the Cyprus flag

By Evie Andreou

THE TRIAL of a Turkish Cypriot couple, charged for hanging the Cyprus Republic’s flag outside their home and shop in June last year in Famagusta has been postponed until July 11.

Koray Basdogrultmaci and Cinel Senem Husseyin were charged with offences against public order.

The couple was arrested and jailed even though they had tried to explain to the Turkish Cypriot police that Basdogrultmaci, who was arrested four years ago for the same reason, had been acquitted in court.

The couple said hanging the flag was their way of protesting the Turkish Prime Minister’s hypocrisy. Tayyip Erdogan had, the previous day attended the opening ceremony of the Mediterranean Games in Mersin, in Turkey where the Cypriot flag had flown unimpeded.

The Turkish Cypriot couple protested that the Cypriot flag could wave in Turkey but not in northern Cyprus.

The trial has been postponed several times already. At the April 9, 2014 hearing, which was postponed because the judge who was to hear the case was on maternity leave, the couple was asked to show remorse and be fined but they refused.

The next hearing was set for May 6 and the couple was warned that they would risk be heavily fined and even incarcerated but the trial was postponed because “the police witnesses were not in court” the Cyprus Mail was told by Tina Adamidou, a personal friend of the couple. “I wonder what the next excuse will be” said Adamidou who believes that they have no real reason to proceed with the case and that’s why it is being constantly postponed.

The couple who prefer to call themselves ‘Turkish-speaking Cypriots’, declared they’d rather go to prison than pay any fine and that in such a case they would file a case at the European Court of Human Rights.

“The couple is being victimised for their beliefs and they are standing proud stating they are willing to go to jail to protect their basic human right, freedom of expression,” said Adamidou who said the case has already been reported to Amnesty International.

“There are no laws pertaining to flying the Cypriot flag, so the trumped-up charges of ‘disturbing the peace’ are the charges that this couple will have to face,” she said.

According to the couple’s information the complaint had come from five mainland Turks because they did not want the Cyprus flag hanging opposite their workshop.

“If that’s the case then why didn’t the breakaway regime’s policemen arrest the man who hung provocatively two huge flags on his balcony during the Good Friday liturgy in Famagusta? The police had asked him to remove them and he refused but he was not arrested or taken to court,” said Adamidou.

During the latest hearing on Tuesday, 15 people gathered in support outside of the court. The couple’s friends are also trying to better inform the public.

To show his support, following the trial postponement, Sener Elcil, the Turkish Cypriot Teacher’s Syndicate’s (KTÖS) General Secretary, released an announcement saying that the incident has fully exposed the policies of the breakaway regime and that policies like these were designed to force Turkish Cypriots to leave the island. He also said that the trial of the couple was an occupation policy and Turkish Cypriots were becoming a minority in their own country.

“Holding and hanging the Cyprus Republic flag is not a crime. The related trial against Koray and Cinel Basdogrultmaci is completely political and Turkish authorities are the ones who are responsible,” the announcement said. Ercil expressed his support and solidarity to the couple and his intention to cite international law in support of anyone who’s been treated unfairly by the system.

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