By Angelos Anastasiou
The significance of the recent ruling of a Turkish Cypriot court lies in the elevation of the matter from the level of the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) – an administrative body – to the ‘judicial system’, by means of an executable ruling, prominent lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said on Thursday.
Turkish Cypriot paper Havadis reported on Tuesday that local courts ordered the seizure of ‘ministerial’ cars as part payment of over £2m sterling awarded by the IPC to a Greek Cypriot.
According to Havadis, although the commission has doled out over £200 million so far in restitution to Greek Cypriot property owners who lost access to their property in the north after the 1974 Turkish invasion, it has recently gone broke after Turkey declared that the people using the properties should contribute to the Commission’s budget.
After not receiving the £2,150,000 awarded to him by the IPC for 60 donums of beachfront land in Vasileia, Kyrenia, the Greek Cypriot land-owner resorted to the breakaway regime’s legal system and secured a favourable ruling, which allowed him to sequester the cars in lieu of payment.
The importance of the ruling lies in the difference between an administrative decision and a court ruling –with the latter being legally enforceable.
According to Demetriades, although agreement was reached with the IPC in this case, it was never executed, and the plaintiff resorted to a civil ‘court’, winning the right to seize the administration’s assets.
But the Commission was set up as a “domestic remedy of Turkey, the effectiveness of which will be determined in due course”, which is why its failure to cough up the awarded restitution is not necessarily an argument against its existence, Demetriades argued.
“The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that all domestic recourses must be exhausted before appealing to it,” he said.
“The reason domestic means are used is so that the administration can be given a chance to react to the injustice suffered, both at the first instance and on appeal. Only if all of these failed to offer satisfactory remedies could one resort to the ECHR.”
It won’t get that far, Demetriades thought.
“I don’t think it will get to that,” he said.
“There is an ongoing political discussion on the arrangement for the payment of the money the IPC awards, revolving around whether Turkey should bear the full cost or the people using the land should contribute to the Commission’s budget. I think it will be solved soon and people will receive their money.”