Cyprus Mail

Identification procedures to identify Athalassa missing remains to begin soon

Excavations in Athalassa

Procedures to identify the remains of 11 Cypriots, excavated last year in the area where they have been buried since the 1974 Turkish invasion, next to Athalassa Hospital in Nicosia, will start soon, according to Presidential Commissioner Fotis Fotiou.

In a statement, he said an expert is expected to arrive from abroad soon and that anthropological and scientific procedures at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING) will follow soon after.

In a meeting at CING’s Headquarters between board members and Fotiou, an agreement was signed, to renew cooperation in the identification of remains belonging to fallen and missing persons.

The presidential commissioner said that CING and the Republic of Cyprus started officially cooperating in 2001 on the issue of missing persons. More recently, the two sides worked together during the excavations that took place last year next to Athalassa Hospital, in Nicosia.

A number of hospital inmates, including three Turkish Cypriots, were reportedly buried there after being killed in the summer of 1974, when the hospital was attacked during the Turkish invasion.

Although the authorities were searching for the remains of 31 people, only 11 were found. More skeletal samples were found in nearby graves. According to Fotiou, the authorities received information that two of those 31 were later buried in a Nicosia cemetery.

Fotiou assured that efforts to locate the remains of these people will continue and called on anyone with any information to report it to authorities.

He added that during the meeting, developments concerning the remains which have been covered with chemical substances were discussed and authorities are in contact with a laboratory in the US, as well as in the UK over the matter.

Fotiou said the state had an obligation to continue the search on all missing persons.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

Hundreds of Greek Cypriots went missing during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, most of them combatants but also women, children and elderly people. During the same period and in the early 1960 when intercommunal fighting broke out Turkish Cypriots went missing too.

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