By Angelos Anastasiou
THE family of people who went missing during the 1974 Turkish invasion in Strongylos, Famagusta, has sued the state for failing to arrest the murderers and repeatedly obstructing the family from seeking effective restitution, according to a statement.
“On May 15, 2015, following six years of waiting, the hearing of a civil law suit against the Republic of Cyprus by the family of the missing persons of Strongylos, Famagusta, will commence,” the statement said.
The family claims that, since 1974, a host of witness testimony pointing to the presence of suspects in the government-controlled areas were ignored.
“No arrest warrants were ever issued against suspects in mass murders, nor was any testimony or claim investigated in depth, even after the crossing points were opened, and despite the existence of new testimonies,” it said.
This failure to act, they charged, constitutes a violation of the principle of equality before the law, as the government “issued an arrest warrant against [Solomos] Solomou and asked for the arrest of [Turkish actor] Attila Olgac”.
Further, the family claims to have faced “systematic obstruction, for more than three decades” in not being allowed access to the files and testimony of the missing.
“In essence, this equals obstructing the family from resorting to the European Court of Justice against Turkey,” the statement read.
“Recourse was finally made, with much delay, but took a negative turn as by that time the issue of missing persons was being addressed differently by the courts, after the exhumation of the first bodies.”
The family lambasted the policy of the Republic of Cyprus to forego investigating the circumstances in which people went missing during the Turkish invasion, which was “unfortunately adopted by an ‘independent’ institution, the Attorney General”.
“This policy has offered immunity to the people who committed mass murder and crimes against humanity,” the family charged.
“It has condemned the missing persons into ‘living dead’ status, and allowed the Turkish side, which has kept some of them alive for many years after their arrest, to paint a picture of separation of the people in Cyprus.”
Further, the statement said, the no-investigation policy has absolved murderers from both communities of their heinous crimes, and even rewarded some who have since assumed important political and administrative posts on both sides of the dividing line.
“Lastly, it has condemned us, their relatives, to constant agony and endless psychological torture, as the issue of missing persons has been popular with the media,” the family argued.
“For 41 years, families have been forced to bury and mourn their loved ones on a daily basis, and while their mind suggests that they must be dead, mothers don’t want to abandon the hope of seeing their children again.”