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Colonial executioner’s personal items acquired by Cyprus for museum

Some of the personal items belonging to British executioner Harry Allen

By Andria Kades

Personal items belonging to British executioner Harry Allen whose job it was to execute nine Greek Cypriot EOKA fighters in the 1950s were handed over to House President Yiannakis Omirou on Tuesday after expatriates bought them for £1,100.

They included personal photographs, an Omega watch, two silver cups, personal photographs and a detailed list of the nine EOKA fighters with information such as how many seconds it took for them to die and their dates of birth and death.

“We feel shocked over the actions of this notorious executioner, Harry Allen, an executive of British colonialism, for hanging the heroes of the national EOKA 1955-1959 freedom fight,” Omirou said when receiving the items.

He said they were evidence of the brutality colonialists showed towards a country that fought for its freedom. Omirou planned to hand over the items to the National Struggle Museum “to eternally display the despicable behaviour of colonialists.”

The Greek Cypriot EOKA fighters executed were Michail Karaoilis, Andreas Demetriou (May 10, 1956), Andreas Zakos, Iakovos Patatsos, Charilaos Michail (August 9, 1956) Michalis Koutsoftas, Stelios Mavrommatis, Andreas Panagides (September 21, 1956) and Evagoras Pallikarides (March 14, 1957).

On behalf of expatriates in the UK, Fanoula Argyrou said everything started when the Daily Mail published an article earlier this year on May 12 saying that Allen’s personal items were being auctioned.

Expats then contacted the auction house to buy them however they had already been bought by a British man. After some attempts to reach out to him, he contacted them and agreed to sell the items for £1,100.

The items also include two books on Allen’s life, one called “The last executioner of Britain” published by the Prisons Museum while the two silver cups bear an engraving from his friends.

Argyrou said they were surprised that in an album containing the pictures and details of those killed, there was a colour page with a catalogued list of their names, pictures, and quotes.

Allen also assisted in the killing of 54-year-old Greek Cypriot Styllou Pantopiou Christofi in a London prison on December 15, 1954, sentenced for killing her German daughter-in-law.

Inside Allen’s book, Argyrou said they found a letter from the Ministry of Colonies dated December 31, 1957 calling on Allen to take up his post as executioner in Cyprus. This however contradicts historical facts as by then, all of the executions had been carried out.

The expatriates contacted the book’s author asking for explanations and after a meeting, he himself found the date of the letter quite strange.

One possible explanation, according to Argyrou is that there were heated discussions in British parliament about scrapping the death penalty and between August 10, 1955 and July 23, 1957 they had suspended all executions in Britain.

Thus the letter could have been intentionally dated later than it was actually written on, so the ministry could be covered in case there were any accusations by Greek Cypriot lawyers and relatives of double standards.

According to data by the UK Prison Museum, Harry Allen performed 29 executions and assisted in another 53 that did not include the nine EOKA fighters.

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