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Family of missing police officer seeking justice

parliament in sessson
Parliament in session [Photo source: CNA]

A family is seeking justice for their missing father, a police officer, who was unjustly kicked out by the coupist Eoka B led government in 1974, denying his seven children and widow of any benefits for his years of service.

The House committee on refugees on Tuesday examined the issue of Theodoulos Solomou, who served as a police officer before the July 15 coup in 1974 that led to the Turkish invasion.

Solomou, who was from Afania, was apparently one of the resistance fighters during the coup and was moved to Salamina police station in Famagusta after the incident.

After being moved, a few days before the second leg of the Turkish invasion, he was informed by the coup government that he was relieved of his duties as a police officer.

Solomou’s story however had a tragic end, when he went missing among those killed in the village of Assia.

Since then, his family has been seeking justice for the coup government’s decision, since in 1975 the coup and the coup government were declared illegal.

During the discussion on Tuesday, his family called for the decision to fire him from the police force be overturned.

Solomou had seven children and a wife, who never saw a cent of benefits given to former police officers of the Republic, due to years of government delays to deal with the situation.

The son of the missing man, gynaecologist Grigoris Solomou, stated that until 2019 the police did not consider his father, who was taken prisoner by the Turks on August 14, 1974, as a member of the force.

From 2001 to 2019, the family reported repeatedly contacting police leadership and the justice ministry, receiving negative responses to their request to revoke Solomou’s dismissal, citing a lack of information surrounding the circumstances of the dismissal.

In 2019, following an investigation ordered by the then Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, the former chief of police Kypros Michaelides acknowledged in a letter the non-existent circumstances for the dismissal of Theodoulos Solomou and apologised to the family.

However, the situation has still not been rectified, because leadership in the police changed after 2019, and current police chief Stelios Papatheodorou recanted the decisions made by his predecessor, according to Solomou’s son.

In his reply, Papatheodorou said that the police is the only organisation, along with the National Guard, that honours all its fallen and missing members.

He referred to a decision of the cabinet in 2005 by which Theodoulos Solomou was recognised as a resistance fighter. He said he did not dispute what the family reported.

He noted that the 1974 dismissal was recognised as non-existent but was negative on the rest of the family’s requests.

He said all members of the police who are fallen or missing are honoured by the Police on May 5.

He noted that the family is wronging the police and the state. “He is among the missing police officers, he is honoured like all the members,” he said, noting that he does not dispute Michaelides’ letter.

The representative of the justice ministry, First Administrative Officer Stavros Christofi, said that the ministry forwarded the family’s requests for the restoration of financial benefits to the competent authorities.

Humanitarian affairs commissioner Anna Aristotelous said it is tragic after so many years “to hear the son of the missing person, who is a hero, asking for the obvious. As a society and a state, the least we can do is apologise to the family,” she said.

She added that since the dismissal was revoked, the relevant authorities should consider the case for benefits and honours, as provided for all, noting that since he is not considered to have been dismissed, he enjoys the benefits of a serving police officer.

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