Cyprus Mail

Parents want soldier’s ‘mystery death’ in 2005 reviewed by new expert

Andriana and Charalambos Nicolaou outside the supreme court in June 2018

THE family of a 26-year-old soldier who died in 2005 under disputed circumstances has filed a request to have his remains exhumed to be examined by an expert, reports said Tuesday.

The case concerns Thanasis Nicolaou who had been serving in the National Guard when he was found dead under the Alassa bridge in Limassol in 2005. The parents believe he was murdered and there had been a cover-up.

Daily Phileleftheros reported that his family had filed an application at Limassol’s district court on Friday asking for permission to exhume their son’s remains so that they can be examined by Greek pathologist Phillipos Koutsaftis, the former head of the Athens coroner’s service.

The case will be heard on October 21.

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 a high point”.

However, parents said they have gathered evidence that 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.

Following a protest outside the attorney-general’s office in June last year, the parents demonstrated outside the supreme court demanding a new probe to shed light to the death of their child.

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 case file to 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 Thanasis was probably drowned and placed there.

The mother said her son had been bullied, but had misgivings about reporting it 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,” his mother says.

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