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Thirteen years on, parents still seeking truth in son’s death

The parents of a 26-year-old man who was found dead under a bridge in Limassol in 2005, while serving in the National Guard, protested outside the attorney-general’s office on Thursday, demanding a probe to shed light to the death of their child.

Dressed in black, Andriana and Charalambos Nicolaou clutched placards with photos of their dead son at the scene, under the Alassa bridge, and in the mortuary, once again pleading with authorities to find the truth about Thanasis’ death, suggesting there had been a cover-up.

“We are asking for the case to be resolved right now. They have been tormenting us for so many years,” his mother Andriana Nicolaou told reporters.

“My son was a soldier, he was serving his country and someone murdered him. Thirteen years have gone by but to me, it is like yesterday. I live his death every day.”

The initial court verdict of suicide has been changed over the years to “not suicide” with “inadequate evidence for criminal activity and probable death as a result of a fall from high up.”

However, the evidence gathered by the mourning parents disputes this verdict and indicates foul play with probable drowning.

Their son, Thanasis had moved from Australia with his architect’s degree from Melbourne University, to set up a new life and an office in Cyprus. But he first had to complete six months of compulsory national service, during which, according to his parents, he was bullied for the first three months before he died on September 29, 2005.

After the initial police investigation, state pathologist Panicos Stavrianos told the mother that Thanasis had probably got dizzy and fallen off the bridge.

The mother spent six months fighting to get access to the police photographs and other forensic evidence of the scene, as she ruled out suicide.

She said the photos showed no broken or protruding bones and her son’s mouth was full of sand, even though he was found lying on his back, which she said went unexplored in the original report.

Over the years, the parents took the police photos and case file to get advice from experts in Greece, and the UK, all of whom ruled out death by suicide or falling.

Judging from the photos and information provided, they concluded that their son was probably drowned and placed there.

The mother said her son had been bullied but had misgivings about reporting them to his superiors. After finally having papers thrown in his face by fellow soldiers, Thanasis filed a complaint to his commanding officer.

“This was not long before his death,” said his mother.

In a statement released on Thursday, the attorney-general’s office said a police inquiry into the case, following the AGs instructions in 2014, has been completed and will be forwarded to the Legal Service.

The parents have also lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights claiming the state had failed to carry out an effective investigation.

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