Cyprus Mail

Ministry given a month to demolish disputed venue

The Larnaca district court has given the interior ministry until March 22 to demolish a building near Mackenzie beach, which had been at the centre of a property dispute between the rightful owners and the user.

Appearing before the court on Friday, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides, in his capacity as the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties, explained why a 2016 court order to demolish the event venue Ktima Makenzy had not been executed.

A court order was issued in January 2016, ordering the government to vacate the property and remove any buildings that have been constructed since the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties leased the land to a private individual in 2010.

Previously, the court had ruled that the land had to be handed over to its Turkish Cypriot owner, a British citizen.

Petrides told the court that the property had been reclaimed on January 17 thought that did not fully comply with the order.

“We are prepared to deliver the property and all necessary actions have been carried out to fully comply with the court order,” the minister told the court.

The court heard Larnaca municipality had issued a demolition permit on Thursday and the ministry had called for tenders in search of a contractor who will carry out the demolition. The deadline is February 20.

All necessary documents were presented to the court and the state asked for one month starting February 20, to complete the demolition.

The dispute emerged after Raymond Riza, the son and heir of Fikret Ali Riza who died in the UK in June 2000, filed a lawsuit against the state and the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties.

Fikret Ali Riza owned the land in the parish of Skala and was born in Larnaca on February 2, 1926. He emigrated to London in 1951 where he lived until his death.

The property was registered to his son in August 2005. Raymond was born in 1955 and has lived in London since. Like Raymond, Fikret was also a British passport holder.

Raymond sued the state and the guardian, demanding some €958,000 in damages for loss of use between 1975 and 2012, as well as general damages for violating his right to property.

The property in question had been requisitioned, like all properties left behind by Turkish Cypriots in the aftermath of the Turkish invasion in July 1974.

In 1991, it came under the control of the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties whose task is to protect the properties until an agreement was reached by the two sides.

The state argued that the property had been taken over based on the law of necessity – passed in 1964 to ensure the smooth running of the state after the Turkish Cypriots left their posts in the government and legislature – and public interest.

It also argued that the owner and his heirs could not exercise their rights, without permission from the guardian, as long as the division continued.

However, the court ruled that “the case in question does not concern Turkish Cypriot property”, but a “property that was registered and occupied by a British national”.

The court said the case was no different and should not be treated differently from one concerning a Greek Cypriot or other national “who found out that their property in Cyprus was requisitioned for a certain period and the Republic and the guardian assumed possession and control … because it was wrongly deemed Turkish Cypriot”.

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