Cyprus Mail

Ayaz seeks recourse in European court, parties express solidarity

ayaz protest
File photo: Protesters in support of Kenan Ayaz march to the Presidential Palace and the German Embassy, Nicosia, May 22, 2023 [Source: CNA]

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled it will not initially get involved in the extradition of Kurdish activist Kenan Ayaz to Germany, lawyer and MP Kostis Efstathiou said on Tuesday.

Speaking on CyBC’s morning programme, Efstathiou explained that Ayaz’s lawyer had sought recourse for his client in two ways. One was through seeking not be extradited from the island without a German guarantee that he would not be further extradited to Turkey; the other was a request, that should the German court rule for onward extradition, the European court would hear arguments as to his likely treatment, torture, or disappearance in that state.

The ECHR ruled that it would not get involved in the extradition from Cyprus to Germany but has agreed to the second, that is, a hearing on his likely fate should he be ordered to go to Turkey, Efstathiou said.

Ayaz is expected to be extradited to Germany within hours or days, latest by Thursday.

Efstathiou also argued that the charges against Ayaz had been general, amounting to him having “influenced terrorists”.

The lawyer severely criticised Justice Minister Anna Procopiou’s handling of the Ayaz matter, saying that it was inconceivable that in a statement made she had left doubts about the defendant’s character, and attributed the minister’s words to a blunder.

In an interview with daily Phile published on Tuesday, Ayaz said he did not expect the court decisions in favour of his extradition, particularly since in 2019 his fellow Kurd, Cherkez Korkmaz, who was charged with similar offences, had a different outcome.

He was being sent as a “gift from President Nikos Christodoulides to German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz,” the Kurd said illustrating his conviction that the decision was political.

Meanwhile, a protest march from Eleftheria Square to the presidential palace was held on Monday.

Supporters reiterated their determination to continue fighting for Ayaz. Slogans and banners pointed to the injustice of the decision and that Ayaz was being labelled a terrorist without having committed any crime.

Police escorted protesters along the route and stood guard outside the main gates of the presidential palace and the German embassy.

A statement issued by the Kurdish organisation Theofilos said “the extradition decision… is not based on… law and justice, [not only did] you just hand over our friend to the fascist Turkish state, but [did so] purely for political reasons.”

The minister of justice has denied the allegations that either the ministry or the government in any way interfered with the work of the court.

Opposition party Akel, meanwhile, registered the matter in parliament and has stated they will invite the relevant ministries and the legal service to give explanations.

Party spokesman Giorgos Koukoumas accused the ministry of claiming falsely that it had no choice but to execute the European arrest warrant, adding that EU and Cypriot legislation obliges states to refuse extradition of any person prosecuted for their political opinions.

The Greens have also been outspoken on behalf of the Kurdish activist, with former party head Giorgos Perdikis stating “it is not the Kurds who are terrorists but those sitting in big government in Ankara and Brussels.

“All they say about guarantees is nonsense […] Kenan Ayaz is in danger because unfortunately the Cypriot government has decided to play the game of the great powers of Europe and America”.

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