Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides has appointed three independent investigators to reopen the case of the death of a 26-year-old soldier in 2005, which appears to have been the result of foul play.
On Thursday, Savvides announced the appointment of lawyers Achilleas Emilianides, Savvas Matsas, and Antonis Alexopoulos to probe the death of Thanasis Nicolaou whose body was found under a bridge in Alassa, Limassol, about 12 kilometres from his home and barracks on September 29, 2005.
His death had been ruled a suicide by authorities, a finding fiercely disputed from the outset by his family who have been fighting ever since to find out the truth.
Savvides said the investigators “will try to shed light on the cause of death of the unfortunate national guardsman and if there are any culprits, they will be identified and brought before justice. I hope that after the end of the procedure, Thanasis’ family will be given the answers to the questions that have been tormenting them for 16 years.”
He said the state’s effort was and still is, to help find the truth whatever it is, so that the family and the state feel there is a clear conclusion to this tragic case.
“What I want to say however, is that I consider it unfortunate for any family who lost its child or any other member through an unnatural death, to go through so many years of such a heart-wrenching and emotional procedure,” Savvides said.
The AG said the decision to appoint the investigators was based on the reports of two experts who had examined Nicolaou’s remains and the findings of two inquests done in the past.
Family-appointed Greek pathologist Demetra Karayianni said she had found that Thanasis’ hyoid – a U shaped bone that supports the tongue – was fractured, and it had been inflicted before his death.
Karayianni was adamant that the fracture had been caused ante mortem and could only be caused by strangulation or hanging.
Injuries to the hyoid bone are rare. The most commonly reported injury is fracture, and it is often a post-mortem finding with a high incidence in victims of strangulation and hanging.
According to Savvides, the expert hired by the government had given a “a somewhat different position”.