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TC military court extends detention of bicommunal activist

Κατεχόμενα Ανδρέας Σουτζιής "Δικαστήριο"
Andreas Soudjis at a previous hearing

A military court in the north on Thursday extended the detention of a Greek Cypriot bicommunal activist by a further five days.

Andreas Soudjis has been held in the north for more than 20 days as Turkish Cypriot authorities contemplated charging him with espionage.

He was on Wednesday issued a warning from the court and a suspended fine for one of the charges he was facing and fined 30,000 TL (around €1,640) by a court in Trikomo for possession of a radio or walkie-talkie without a licence. The fine will only have to be paid if he commits the same offence again.

Soudjis was arrested coming back from the north through the Pergamos crossing on September 1 on suspicion of espionage as he had been using the walkie-talkie to stay in communication with friends due to problems experienced using mobiles registered in the Republic while in the north. Unauthorised use of walkie talkies is an offence in the north.

Reports had said he was also in possession of a mobile phone, maps, photos and some audio data, which were confiscated by police to check whether he had information on military areas in the north.

The military court in the north have been deliberating over his possession of five photos of ‘military areas’ on his mobile phone.

Turkish Cypriot media reported that the court in question was told by the public prosecutor that the photos were taken on March 13 last year in the fenced area of Famagusta, during a trip with a group of 25 people.

The police investigation also established that the maps of military areas also found among his mobile phone data were ultimately the product of an internet search, since it was not established that Soudjis had driven a car near those areas, the reports said. He noted that Soudjis has a clean criminal record in the north.

Soudjis’ Turkish-Cypriot lawyer, Oncel Polili told the court that his client admitted that he took the photos himself and said he had no problem with having them erased from his mobile phone. He noted that Soudjis was forced to leave his village, Lysi, when he was 10 years old and that he has two daughters, both adults, but they have not seen their father for more than three weeks, and asked for a light sentence.

Meanwhile, Soudjis’ brother Savvas, who was outside the military court in the north of Nicosia, told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that they were expecting him to be released on Thursday but “their agony” has been extended for another five days. He expressed hope that the final decision would not hinder his brother from crossing to the north in the future.

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