Cyprus Mail

Eoka vets in UK torture claim await initial court decision on Friday

A British soldier searching a cyclist during the Eoka insurgency of the 1950s

Thirty-four Greek Cypriots will learn on Friday at the Royal Courts of Justice in the UK if they have achieved an initial victory in their claims against the British government regarding historic torture and abuse during the Eoka struggle between 1955-59.

Justice Kerr of the Queen’s Bench Division presided over a Preliminary Hearing on November 27 and 28 regarding “double actionability”, but at the time reserved his judgement.

According to the UK lawyers for the plaintiffs, double actionability is an obscure – and now mostly obsolete – point of law, first made in the 1870. It has now largely been abrogated in English law.

If the rule applies, then the court will have to take Cyprus law into account in determining the claim. The claimants argue that only English law should apply.

Lawyers for the UK government have asked the court to consider the double actionability rule as a preliminary issue before the matter proceeds to a full trial.

Kevin Conroy, solicitor for the claimants, said: “This will be an incredibly interesting determination, especially as there is another claim currently being brought against Her Majesty’s Government relating to Colonial abuse and torture.”

“My clients are sincerely looking forward to receiving Mr. Justice Kerr’s decision on Friday – and I know some of them will be attending the Royal Courts of Justice to hear it in person.

“I think Her Majesty’s Government has hoped this case will disintegrate and go away. It’s not going away, ever.”

The Eoka veterans filed their claim in mid-2015 after  Foreign Office documents released in July 2012 described claims of torture and abuse during the 1955-1959 Eoka insurgency.

In parallel with legal procedures to lead test cases to trial, the solicitors are expected to open negotiations with British authorities with a view to settling out of court on a similar basis to the Kenyan example, which opened the way for the Eoka veterans.

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