Ombudswoman Eliza Savvidou has ordered a probe into a report in daily Politis over the indecent conditions under which the father of a Turkish Cypriot journalist, who died in the government-controlled areas, was transported to north.
The story, under headline ‘The man in the sheets’, described the ordeal the man’s family had to endure after he died on the operating table in a Nicosia hospital.
Discovering that there is no procedure for the transfer of deceased persons from one side to the other, the man’s son was able to arrange for a Strovolos municipality hearse to transport his father to a crossing point, where another hearse – a ‘Turkish Cypriot’ one – would pick him up and take him to Kyrenia.
Hearses are not allowed to cross over from the occupied areas to the Republic of Cyprus and vice versa.
The man, Politis reported, was transported not in a coffin, but wrapped in hospital sheets, and his son had to place his dead father in the hearse himself.
The transfer from one hearse to the other was as crude as it could have been, it said. The deceased man was unwrapped from the sheets – so they could be returned – and placed into the second hearse on the street, in front passers-by.
Further bureaucratic inefficiencies faced the son when he was asked to produce his dead father’s ID card at the crossing point. Also, the death certificate was issued in Greek only, even though, as the paper pointed out, Turkish is also an official language of the Republic.
The issue of language gave birth to yet more complexities as the Turkish Cypriot ‘authorities’ were also unable to ‘legally’ recognise the death certificate, and the dead man’s wife was unable to use it in applying for her widow’s pension.
The story prompted Savvidou to call the son into her office and have him narrate the problems he faced. The commissioner’s office aims to identify gaps in the procedure, with a view to prompting a political solution.