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Work to locate missing has become ‘unstuck’

olympus digital camera
CMP officials looking for remains Photo: CMP

After a period of stagnation, work to determine the fate of the missing is beginning to progress, thanks in part to the use of modern technology, Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) Leonidas Pantelides told MPs on Tuesday.

Pantelides, who was briefing the House refugee committee during a meeting at his office, said that although the search for the missing is both time consuming and complicated, the use of modern technology has permitted progress.

Four researchers from the University of Wisconsin, two stationed in Cyprus, with the other two working remotely from the US, have been assisting the CMP with special geo-radars and drones, which are able to record underground footage.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the House committee was briefed about the difficulties CMP teams face in collecting and recording testimony, identifying burial sites and determining the conditions under which victims disappeared and the profile of the perpetrator, the Cyprus News Agency reported.

The information is then crosschecked with data from the Turkish Cypriot office of the CMP so that a location can be established, it added.

Factors making the work of the CMP difficult are the presence of military facilities in many areas of northern Cyprus, the construction of buildings whose owners delay authorising excavations and the development of green areas as it appears to be a customary practice to plan areas where burials have occurred, the news agency said.

Pantelides confirmed after the meeting that efforts are being made to intensify investigations as time is pressing. Technology is assisting this effort in consultation while the US experts will bring new equipment at the start of the summer.

“They will bring different equipment this time so that new technology can be used to see how it can help,” he said.

A lot of progress has also been made in digitising all the data that CMP has available during pandemic-imposed lockdowns.

“Currently we have seven teams who are working intensively, we have a ‘basket’ of cases that have been approved by the members and are heading towards excavation,” he said.

There are another 100 cases for excavation, while experts are looking at information regarding more than 200 others.

Speaking after the meeting, Akel MP Nicos Kettiros said “it appears that things have become ‘unstuck’, as at one point there was an extended period of stagnation and we hope that in the immediate future there will be announcements about locations where remains have been found, for people lost either in 1974 or in previous years”.

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