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Cyprus

Court upholds demolition order for private Paphos chapel

THE Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against the demolition of a chapel in Paphos built by a man on private land as an offering related to his daughter’s health, saying the arguments were unsubstantiated.

The demolition had been ordered by the Paphos court in 2017 after it emerged that the man had not obtained a building permit from the district office. According to the Supreme Court ruling, the plot in which the chapel was built did not belong to the appellant.

The man built the chapel in the autumn of 2012 in a plot in the village of Timi as an offering when his daughter had been dealing with a health problem.

He was sued by the Paphos district officer which in February 2017 ordered the chapel’s demolition within two months.

The man was accused of “erecting a building in which he placed a cross and religious icons and is used as a chapel and/or place of prayer, without first obtaining a permit from the competent authority.”

The man then appealed to the Supreme Court which upheld the demolition order, finding the appellant’s arguments were unsubstantiated.

“The Court’s discretion to order the demolition of an illegal building, that is to say, which was raised without the necessary permit from the competent authority, is limited,” the court said in its ruling.

Orders to demolish illegal buildings are usually issued, but case law recognises limited discretion for the court not to issue such a decree if the illegality is insignificant, or marginal, and relates essentially to a small or negligible part of the building, it said.

In the case in question, however, it is evident that the whole building had been erected by the appellant without authorisation and therefore there is no question of the discretion of the Court in favour of non-demolition of the building, the Supreme Court ruling concluded.

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