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Exhumation of soldier’s remains in disputed death

Thanasis Nicolaou's parents have always disputed the suicide ruling

The remains of a young man who was found dead in 2005 while doing his military service will be exhumed on Thursday after a court ruling granted his family’s request for his body to be examined by an independent expert.

Thanasis Nicolaou’s death had been ruled a suicide by authorities, a finding disputed by his family who have been fighting ever since to find out the truth.

Nicolaou, who was 26 when he died, was found under a bridge in Alassa on September 29, 2005, about 12 kilometres from his home and barracks. He was meant to report back to his unit after an overnight leave.

His death was quickly ruled a suicide at the time and police did not even entertain the possibility of foul play. His family, however, says they have gathered evidence that disputes this verdict and indicates foul play with probable drowning. They said he was bullied for the three months leading up to his death.

The European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruled in February that the authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation.

Last week, the Limassol district court granted the family’s request to exhume Nicolaou’s remains, which will be examined by Phillipos Koutsaftis, the former head of the Athens coroner’s service.

Koutsaftis is expected to arrive in Cyprus on Thursday morning and head straight to the cemetery Nicolaou is buried in Limassol.

 

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