Cyprus Mail

Remains of boy, 7, shot by the British in 1956 are identified

Α statue of demetrakis outside his school in larnaca
Α statue of Demetrakis outside his school in Larnaca

Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Photis Photiou was on Saturday tasked with informing the family of a seven-year-old boy killed by British soldiers in 1956 that authorities had identified his remains, which were exhumed last October from a Larnaca cemetery.

Photiou visited the home of the brother of Demetrakis Demetriades, who died at the age of seven during a protest against the British colonial rule near the Ayios Lazaros church on March 14, 1956, after being shot in the head.

The rallies were oragnised by pupils of the Larnaca high schools and primary schools to protest the exile of Archbishop Makarios to the Seychelles a few days previously.

The commissioner informed the family that the scientific procedures had been completed and as a result, the remains of the Demetrakis had been identified.

The remains of a small child were located last October in a mass burial site in the cemetery of Agios Georgios Kontos in Larnaca with the bodies of more than eight other people.

Photiou informed the family that the bones of Demetrakis were being held at the state’s anthropological laboratory in Engomi, where the family can receive detailed information from the scientists who took part in the identification process.

It will be the first time, the family will have the opportunity, after so many decades, to see the remains of little Demetrakis. All this time, the family did not know where the boy was buried.

Photiou said earlier in the year this was “a devastating story” as the seven-year-old was shot in the head during student rallies in Larnaca and since then, his family did not know where he was buried.

He said the family believed it would be somewhere in that cemetery but there was no cross or any other mark to give any indication. The British authorities had buried the body at night in a bid to hush up the incident fearing it would spark uproar, Photiou had said.

Demetrakis’ brother, Lakis told Alpha TV last April that the man who shot the seven-year-old must have been an officer because he had a revolver. Several years later, the same man went to their father, he said, asking for forgiveness. He also offered the father 100 pounds. Demetriades said his father accepted the man’s apology but refused the money. He also told him this was no way to treat a child.

Photiou said that the government had started investigations to locate the body on the request of Demetrakis’ brother.

The commissioner on Saturday assured the family once again that the state would make every effort to give the boy recognition for his heroic sacrifice during the troubles. He said a burial place would be arranged for Demetrakis where his memory will be honoured as per the family’s wishes.

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