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Judgement reserved in Kykkos monastery land dispute with Greece

Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Kotzias outside Nicosia district court (Christos Theodorides)

Nicosia district court reserved judgement on Tuesday over the controversial legal battle between Kykkos monastery and the government of Greece over an area of land.

The case, which in its previous court session saw Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias take the witness stand, relates to a dispute over 8,000 square metres of land the monastery sold and donated to Greece, which it now wants back.

Half of the land had been donated so Greece could build an embassy on Prokopiou street in Engomi while the other half was sold for a sum of 500,000 Cyprus pounds in 1998.

Twenty years later, no embassy or residence has been built.

At the time, the contract included a clause that stipulated the land could only be used for the purposes of building an embassy.

In 2012 however, the bishop was led to believe that Greece was trying to sell the land to Tofargo, a company acting on behalf of the embassy of Qatar, the court heard.

Trying to halt the move, the monastery took the case to court, which in 2017 ruled that Greece should return the land to the monastery. In return, the monastery should in turn pay back the money it received with interest – at present €2.3m.

The Kykkos monastery had in the meantime found a prospective buyer for the land but could not proceed with the sale because the land was still in Greece’s hands. They claim they had tried to make an arrangement with the embassy so they could deposit the €2.3m in an account for them, but to no avail.

The present hearing is because the monastery wants the court to impose the land transfer back to the monastery and specify an account in which the money should be deposited.

During Tuesday’s court session, the lawyers for both Kykkos and Greece presented their closing statements but the judge said he would reserve making a decision for a later date.

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