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Turkish Cypriot couple face fourth charge in ‘flag’ debacle

The Turkish Cypriot couple and their friends unfurled the Cyprus flag again yesterday in front of the Famagusta court

By Evie Andreou

ANGER, disappointment and bewilderment was what Turkish Cypriots Koray Basdogrultmaci and Cinel Senem Husseyin, who are being prosecuted for flying the Republic of Cyprus flag, felt on Wednesday when they were told that they now face another charge, that of conspiracy to undermine and insult the breakaway regime in the north.

After almost two years of legal wrangling, when they were arrested for flying three flags of the Republic outside their home and shop in Famagusta in June 2013, the couple, who like to be identified as Turkish-speaking Cypriots, could not believe their ears when they were slapped with another charge.

“I am very angry about what happened,” Husseyin told the Cyprus Mail.

She added that when they arrived at the Famagusta court yesterday, for the seventeenth time after constant postponements of the trial, they were given the alternative for her husband to agree to his charges and have hers dropped.

If he agreed, he would then face three charges, including disturbing the peace and non recognition of the breakaway regime in the north, which in total amount to five years of imprisonment.

“I refused, I told them we did nothing wrong, we flew the flag together, our country’s flag and we will fight this together,” Husseyin said.

After the announcement of the new charge, the couple was told that the court had adjourned until May 21.

Tensions rose outside the courthouse, however, when a policeman told the couple and their friends, including several Greek Cypriots, who were staging a protest and flew the flag of the Republic once again, that “foreigners” were not allowed to protest outside the court and told them to leave.

“The policeman called them [Greek Cypriots] foreigners and I shouted at him that they were not foreigners and that it is bad enough they had their lands and houses stolen from them, they had every right to be there,” Husseyin said.

She added that she challenged the policeman to show his ID issued by the Republic of Cyprus, which is the right of every Turkish Cypriot to possess and which she was sure he had one.

“I told him I can guarantee that you all possess a Cyprus ID card, so does that also make you a foreigner?” Husseyin said.

According to Tina Adamidou, a friend of the couple, a Kurdish national stepped out of his car holding a Kurdish flag and stood next to Basdogrultmaci who was holding the Cyprus flag but was pushed back into his car by the police.

The couple, that met with president Nicos Anastasiades three weeks ago and told him that their hopes lie in the Cyprus government, are also pursuing a meeting with newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, but their efforts have not proven fruitful yet.

“We called and asked to meet him about three weeks ago and we were told they would call us back, but no one called us to make an appointment yet. We also spoke with his right hand man and gave him all the information about what happened in today’s trial and he said he would call us back,” Husseyin said.

She added that they are determined to meet with Akinci and will not give up until they do.

The couple said that if convicted, they plan to take Turkey to the European Court of Justice.

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