The government wants an exhumation to be carried out at a landfill in occupied Dikomo, at a mass-grave site where it’s thought the remains of dozens of missing Greek Cypriots were moved in the 1990s.
During a closed-doors session of the House refugees committee on Tuesday, MPs heard that a preliminary study by a Portuguese expert has determined the exhumation at the Dikomo site is feasible.
The matter concerns establishing the fate of 70 residents of Assia in the north. According to information, these people were executed and initially thrown into wells, their remains later moved to a landfill in Dikomo.
The committee also heard that some 2,500 bone fragments are being sent to a forensics laboratory in the United States with which the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) collaborates.
Speaking to reporters after the committee session, Presidential Commisioner Fotis Fotiou said he was “troubled by the poor results,” adding that as usual the reason is Turkey’s intransigent and uncooperative stance on the matter of missing persons.
It has been scientifically ascertained that most mass graves located and exhumed to date “have been deliberately tampered with by the Turkish army, and the remains of the dead moved to locations unknown to us.”
At the moment, said Fotiou, the Greek Cypriot side is seeking 750 Greek Cypriot missing persons.
The vast majority of the cases are believed to be the outcome of this practice of moving the remains.
“I believe that this dual crime does not constitute an act or initiative by isolated persons. It was a deliberate, organised policy by the occupying force, and it was done to destroy evidence and proof that could be used to document their crimes,” Fotiou said.
“It is no accident that the Turkish army stubbornly refuses to open up their archives, no accident they do not want to assist the CMP in its work in locating these remains which were moved from the initial burial sites.”
The information about the moving of the remains of Assia’s missing persons came from a tip from a Turkish Cypriot back in 2019.
The government will now commission a study to estimate the timetable and cost of exhuming the remains believed to lie in the landfill in Dikomo.
Concerning the demand by families that the 2,500 bone fragments already in the possession of the CMP be sent to a laboratory in the United States – the fragments were retrieved from two wells in Ornithi, a hamlet in the Famagusta area – Fotiou said the government is ready and willing to cover the cost, estimated at €1 million.
Some relatives of missing persons from Assia have not received all the remains, as DNA identification is pending.
“Many people from Assia have not proceeded to have a proper funeral [for their lost loved ones] for this very reason.”