The remains of five Greek nationals who died in August 1964 while on board the patrol boat Phaethon at Tyllirias when it was bombed by Turkey, were handed over to Greece’s Alternate Minister of Defence Dimitris Vitsas at a special ceremony in Nicosia on Tuesday.
Speaking at the event, Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, Photis Photiou said the deceased had “offered their lives at the altar of Cypriot freedom”.
He named them as: Lieutenant Panagiotis Chrysoulis from Athens, Plutarch Spyridon Agathos from Corfu, Plutarch Nicholas Panagos from Arcadia, Antipaspostor Panagiotis Theodoratos from Kefallinia and Piertis Nikolaos Kappadoukas from Skopelos.
Two other members of the same crew, Antipaspisist Nikolaos Niafas from Lamia, whose remains were repatriated in January last year, and Cypriot volunteer from Morphou Akis Filatas, whose body was buried in his birthplace, Photiou said.
He said Cypriot was also handing over the remains of two Greeks, Reservist Vasilios Koukousoulis, who also died at Tyllirias in August 1964, and Colonel Athanasios Fotopoulos who was killed in the battle for Nicosia airport in July 1974.
“Fifty-four years after the Turkish attacks on Tylliria and 44 years since Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus… we do this as the Cypriot state with a great apology for the delay due to mistakes or omissions of the past, as well as to reasons that were judged necessary in our course over time,” said Photiou.
He also thanked the staff and scientists who worked to carry out the exhumation and identification of the remains of the Phaethon crew.
In his address, Vitsas thanked the Cyprus government and paid tribute to the fallen soldiers. He said heroes were those “who serve a higher purpose without a second thought”.
The remains of the Greek soldiers were transported on a Greek Air Force C-27 from the old Larnaca airport at around noon in a second ceremony attended by National Guard brass, Greek officers, clergy, officials and relatives of the deceased. The plane took off around 1pm.