FOUR Iranians wanted by police in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus were handed over directly by the Republic authorities, without United Nations mediation, for the first time, according to remarks by the Turkish Cypriot co-chairman of the bicommunal technical committee on crime and criminal matters Hakki Onen.
Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen quoted Onen as saying that for the first time Greek and Turkish Cypriot police met face-to-face, without a mediator, handed over suspects, thanked each other, and shook hands.
The four Iranians were wanted in the north in connection with jewellery robberies, and had fled to the areas controlled by the Republic of Cyprus.
Hand-overs had taken place in the past, Onen said, but only with intervention and mediation by the UN.
“This was the first time it was done this way,” he told the paper.
“This is a very positive development. It is very important in order for crime to not go unpunished.”
There have also been children abducted due to marital problems and enrolled in schools in the occupied areas, Onen added, and the individuals were handed back.
Such family dramas, he continued, have been seen on both sides of the divide.
According to Yeni Duzen, the four Iranians were arrested near the Ledra Palace hotel in Nicosia’s buffer zone by UN soldiers, and they were turned over to the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus.
Following “about half an hour of intense diplomatic activity over the telephone”, the paper’s report said, they were handed back to the breakaway regime’s police, for the first time without UN mediation.
Past cases, Onen said, included the delivery of fugitive Andreas Onoufriou, who had escaped the Paralimni prison and fled to the occupied areas, but that, too, had required UN mediation.
The Turkish Cypriot co-chair said that, due to the anomaly that exists in Cyprus, criminals have the opportunity to cross over from one side to the other, which is one of the problems a solution to the Cyprus problem will solve.
The issue of the requested hand-over of the two suspects for the murder of a British tourist in Ayia Napa in August, after they were arrested in Kyrenia, has not yet been discussed, either at the political or the committee level, Onen said.
“However, these individuals must be handed over, this crime must not go unpunished,” he added.
The Cyprus police’s request for their hand-over was transferred via the technical committee, but the issue has yet to be discussed because the two are awaiting trial for entering the occupied territory illegally.
Additionally, Onen said, the Turkish Cypriot side has notified the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus of 19 suspects, mainly for drug cases, awaiting handover.
But these, they were told, are Cypriot nationals and will need to cross over willingly.