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Military court in north extends detention of GC bicommunal activist (Updated)

Κατεχόμενα Ανδρέας Σουτζιής Σύλληψη "Δικαστήριο"
Soudjis being taken to court for an earlier hearing

Bicommunal activist Andreas Soudjis, will remain in the north’s central prison until he is charged and the trial in the case against him begins, a military court in the north ruled on Thursday.

Cyprus News Agency reported that Soudjis would be taken to the central prison for a period of no more than seven days.

The military court is examining the charge of photographing of military areas in the north by a Greek Cypriot, CNA said.

Soudjis appeared in court on Thursday after the expiration of the last eight-day detention order issued against him on September 7.

He was arrested crossing back from the north on August 30 on suspicion of espionage as he had been using a walkie-talkie to stay in communication with friends. Unauthorised use of walkie talkies is an offence in the north.

On August 13, he and others were going to Galatea village in the north, taking part in some group activities including hiking. Soudjis, an electrician by profession, is a well-known activist in the reunification movement.

He allegedly used walkie talkies to facilitate communication between vehicles due to problems experienced using mobiles registered in the Republic in the north.

Soudji’s Turkish Cypriot lawyer, Oncel Polili on Thursday said that there was no charge of espionage and that the police investigation had been completed. The military court was possession of five photos of military sites, he said.

Meanwhile, human rights groups have called for his immediate release.

“Soudjis has been accused of being a spy in all the media, which shows us how important the presumption of innocence really is and some things have to be taken into account in terms of journalistic ethics,” Soudjis’ friend and UniteCyprusNow member Kemal Baykali said.

He also noted that Soudjis was in possession of a mobile phone, maps, photos and some audio data. “But we all have such data on our phones. In the north there is always the possibility that even if a selfie is taken, there is a military area behind it. This means that all of us can commit this “crime”,” Baykali added.

Also in a statement to Cypriots, Murat Kanatli, a member of the New Cyprus party and also a friend of Andreas Soudjis, said that they were following the case with concern because, “as we know, the “country” is already a military zone, by decision of the “cabinet”, which – he noted – has not declassified Varosha from a military area.”

“When you go inside Varosha, which you do with a permit, you can take pictures, but when you do it from outside it is a crime. In such an anomalous situation, taking a photograph in a place where it is located is considered an offence,” he added.

The charge of possessing a radio without a licence was not examined on Thursday but is expected to be tried by the Trikomo district court, most likely on Tuesday, Turkish Cypriot media reported.

For his part, Soudjis’ brother told CNA said he was happy because “the espionage case has fallen on deaf ears and there is no serious accusation”.

Speaking to CNA outside the military court where he and friends went to support his brother, Savvas Soudjis expressed hope that “procedurally in a week he will be with us again. I think we are close to the end”.

 

 

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