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Unidentified bone fragments of Greek commandos buried in Nicosia

Soldiers reburying the coffins containing the bone fragments of the 15 commandos (Christos Theodorides)

Fragments of bone belonging to 15 Greek commandos on board the Noratlas plane, that were unearthed last year and could not be identified though DNA testing, were buried on Wednesday in Nicosia, in line with the wishes of relatives of the 1974 tragedy.

The Noratlas, carrying soldiers from Crete, in the wake of Turkey’s invasion in Cyprus in July 1974, was brought down by friendly fire and crashed in the outskirts of Nicosia. The bodies of the 15 commandos, plus one other soldier, were buried with the wreckage in an area that later became a military cemetery and a war memorial, known as Tymvos Makedonitissas.

A priest at the ceremony

Their remains were unearthed last year and were returned to their relatives. Small fragments of bones that could not be matched were placed on Wednesday in three wooden chests, covered with the Greek and Cypriot flags and after a brief religious ceremony, they were interred in the cemetery.

Speaking during the ceremony, Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Fotis Fotiou said that the struggle to shed light on the fate of missing persons would continue. The three chests containing fragments of bones will be buried here, according to the will of their relatives, Fotiou said.
He added that the identification of three more soldiers that were inside the Noratlas was still pending. “We hope to have the answers soon, in order to brief their families,” said Fotiou.

The commissioner, representatives of the Greek embassy, the Church of Cyprus, the National Guard and the Greek force in Cyprus, all laid wreaths at the end of the ceremony.

In statements afterwards, Fotiou also said that scientific processes concerning the remains of those killed on board the Greek patrol ship Faethon, in 1964, were completed and their relatives will be informed soon.

“In the next few days, all relatives will be briefed about the results,” he said, adding that it was up to them to decide if they preferred their loved ones to remain in Cyprus or to be transferred for burial to Greece.

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