By George Koumoullis
IN THE LAST week we have read about the Cyprus government’s plan to examine, politically and legally, the case of the Turkish Cypriot member of TMT, Turgut Yenagrali, who said that in 1974 he indiscriminately killed Greek Cypriot prisoners. This exposed the government’s hypocrisy and double standards. Another case – exactly the same – with one of ‘our’ killers as the protagonist was made public two-and-a-half years ago. I wrote two articles about it but both the government and the attorney-general kept an honest silence.
Specifically, at 5.55pm on October 21, 2015, on an Astra Radio show, on which former deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou was the guest, a text message from an unknown listener was read and it said: “I was a member of Eoka B and killed many Turkish Cypriots in 1974. If a case is opened against me would I be tried in the north or the south?” As the listener claimed that he killed many Turkish Cypriots in 1974, it was probable he was referring to the three villages of the Famagusta district – Maratha, Aloa, Sandalari – at which Eoka B irregulars killed in cold blood 126 women and children, after repeatedly raping the women and girls.
After the show I wrote an article, under the headline, “Silence greeted the radio murder confession”, which was published on November 1, 2015. In that article I stressed that in countries that respect human rights such statements or confessions on the radio are inconceivable. I also wrote that if we assumed, for the sake of discussion, in one of these countries an anonymous man with mental problems confessed in public that he had killed ‘x’ number of people, the police would have embarked on a manhunt to find and arrest the killer. At the same time, citizens, the media and political leaders would have condemned with abhorrence the crime, the lawlessness and the cruelty.
What happened in Cyprus after this admission of a crime? Neither the government, nor the opposition, nor the media, nor any member of the public bothered to condemn or comment on the confession of someone who committed a crime in a bloodthirsty rage. Instead of a storm of demands for the murderer to be arrested and justice served, there was absolute silence on the matter.
There was one exception-surprise. Incredible as this may sound, a few days after the publication of the article, the police called the Cyprus Mail offices to question me about the murders committed by the Greek Cypriots at the three Turkish Cypriot villages. I arranged to visit the police headquarters in Nicosia at 10am on November 4, 2015. The case had a funny side. Being naïve, I had the impression that the questioning would have been the start of a thorough investigation that would have led to the arrest, trial and sentencing of the cold-blooded killers. I kept telling my friends and acquaintances that “at last, justice will be done!” And the spark for this procedure was my article.
I expected to be greeted by journalists and cameras outside the police HQ, thinking that if the police planned to prosecute the killers, this in itself would be a very newsworthy event for Cyprus. I am not hiding the fact that on that morning I put on my Sunday best, carefully adjusted my tie, and checked myself in the mirror twice. My expectations were shattered when I arrive at police HQ and found out that the cameras were absent and journalists nowhere to be seen. I was greeted by a very nice policewoman who questioned me between 23 and 30 minutes. That was it. In effect, I told her nothing more than what I had written in my article, apart from the names of two journalists who knew a lot more about the case than me. In the end was told that the case would proceed and I would be informed about what happened. I have yet to receive any information.
We are exposed internationally, when we consider those involved in these crimes are well-known to the public but unknown to the authorities. The unwillingness of all governments to investigate the horrific crimes committed in Tochni, Maratha, Aloa and Sandalari is blatantly obvious. This unwillingness is tantamount to being an accessory to a national crime. It makes a mockery of equality before the law and converts rule of law to rule of arbitrariness. With what face will our state seek to arrest Yenagrali, when roaming free among us are many Greek Cypriot killers? Would it be done to acquire a reputation – if it does not already have it – that it is a ridiculous and untrustworthy to the outside world and erratic and inconsistent on the inside.
Of course, we all condemn with abhorrence the crimes of the Turkish Cypriot killer, which, to repeat the self-evident, in no way justify the tolerance of the crimes committed by Greek Cypriots against our innocent Turkish Cypriot compatriots.
Let us, therefore, clean the stable of Augeas. But to avoid behaving like shameless idiots we must first arrest the murderer that boasted on Astra Radio that he killed innocent Turkish Cypriots and all those well-known gangsters of Eoka B for their horrific crimes in August 1974. Then and only then would we have the moral stature to demand the prosecution of Yenagrali.