The family of national guardsman Thanasis Nicolaou, whose lifeless body was found under a bridge in Alassa back in 2005, spoke of their disappointment on Friday when leaving the offices of the legal service, where they were told there was currently not enough grounds to open a criminal case into his death.
The official report had been reviewed by Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides and handed over to the family.
Speaking to the media outside the office of the legal service in Nicosia, Nicolaou’s mother, Andriana, said that apparently there did not seem to be sufficient proof to formally open a criminal investigation and to prosecute anyone.
“This despite the fact that the report filed by Antonis Alexandropoulos, one of the two criminal investigators tasked with shedding light on the death of my son, suggests that at least three police officers and a forensic pathologist, could be involved in covering up the reasons behind his death,” she said.
Nicolaou’s mother received the report directly from Alexandropoulos, who was also present during the meeting, along with the deputy police chief Demetris Demetriou and several officials from the legal service.
Due to the meeting’s inconclusiveness, the parties decided that another meeting to discuss the matter will need to take place. The date, however, has not been decided.
Nicolaou’s mother said that the report will need to be studied carefully, before deciding what the next steps will be. She did not rule out legal action against the state.
“We don’t have much to say. One thing, however, is sure, this is not the end of it,” she said. “My son’s case deserves vindication.”
Referring to Alexandropoulos’ report she said: “The truth is there somewhere and it needs to be uncovered after so many years in which it was buried.”
The official explanation for Nicolaou’s death is still suicide, a ruling that his mother had always rejected. She had always argued his death was the result of bullying while he was in the National Guard.
Savvides said the decision to appoint two investigators and task them with compiling a detailed report on the case was based on earlier inquests filed by two experts who had examined Nicolaou’s remains – after his mother won the right for his remains to be exhumed – and the findings of two previous inquests.
One of the two inquests was carried out by Greek pathologist Demetra Karayianni, who said she had found that the guardsman’ hyoid – a U shaped bone that supports the tongue – was fractured, and it had been inflicted before his death.
The pathologist added that the fracture could only have been caused by strangulation or hanging.
Aside from Alexandropoulos, Savvas Matsas was also nominated as an official investigator on the case. However, he was later removed from the probe by the AG for revealing details of the investigation to the media.
However, his and Alexandropoulos’ new findings were in line with an earlier judgement by the European Court of Human Rights (Echr) which stated that Cypriot police had bungled the initial investigation into the young soldier’s death.