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Cyprus mulls next steps after former TMT member talks about killing Greek Cypriots in 1974

Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Photis Photiou

By Evie Andreou

The Republic of Cyprus is asking from Turkey the effective investigation of all war crimes, Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Photis Photiou said on Tuesday following the ‘confession’ of a Turkish Cypriot to what the commissioner called “barbaric crimes”.

Photiou was speaking after a meeting on the next steps following the testimony last week of an elderly Turkish Cypriot man, a veteran of Turkish Cypriot TMT guerrilla group, on the execution of Greek Cypriot civilian war prisoners during the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Officials from the legal services, representatives of the foreign ministry, the police, and the Committee on Missing Persons were among those who participated in the meeting.

It had followed calls for the prosecution of 84-year-old Turgut Yenagrali, who said in a TV interview that he had killed Greek Cypriot civilian war prisoners. The 84-year-old, had also boasted that he had accompanied the Turkish army to the tip of Karpasia, and that when he saw many Greek Cypriot prisoners, his intention was to kill them all.

What was talked about in the testimony, Fotiou said were “barbaric, horrible crimes against innocent people, in many cases women and children, elderly people but also prisoners and this a truly barbarous confession”.

If what was said truly took place, he said, they constituted war crimes. “At this stage however, we will stop here and if in the future there is anything else, we will announce it,” he said.

Undersecretary to the President, Vasilis Palmas, had said last week that the government did not intend to leave unanswered the provocative testimony of Yenagrali whose statements he described as “provocative, cynical and unacceptable”.

Palmas also said that the government would take the issue to international organisations and consult the attorney-general as to whether the statements were an admission of war crimes.

Following the meeting, Photiou said that there was an in-depth exchange of views and suggestions as to the next steps.

“We have many such cases and testimonies and they are always being assessed to see how they could assist in the location of our missing persons,” Photiou said. “The clear political position of the Republic of Cyprus is that in this case, as in other cases, we are asking effective investigation of these crimes and for all the information from Turkey itself. We could expand the investigation also in the Republic of Cyprus,” he said.

If in the future more information arises relating to the case, Photiou said he did not rule out seeking the help of Europol. “But for now, we will stop here, because such issues are very sensitive and we ought to be cautious,” he said.

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