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Case against Turkish Cypriot lawyer suspended (Update 2)

nicosia district court
Nicosia district court

The attorney-general ordered on Thursday that the trial of Turkish Cypriot lawyer Akan Kursat be suspended since the key witness in the case is dead.

According to what was heard in the Nicosia court on Thursday, Kursat, who was arrested on a warrant for selling Greek Cypriot property in the north, presented himself to the court, where it was learned that the key witness a Briton had died.

The court heard that the legal service learned of the witness’ death on February 19, and that there is no testimony against Kursat, who had been linked to a property sale con Gary Robb committed in Klepini, Kyrenia.

Speaking after the hearing, Hasan Esendagli, Kursat’s lawyer, said: “We believe that justice has been served today for Akan Kursat as we felt it was basically an unfair case.”

Esendagli said that Kursat was free from the “hostage” situation he was in since his arrest, and they were happy about it.

Asked whether Kursat would proceed with a lawsuit over his detention in Italy, Esendagli said he had not had the opportunity to discuss this with him and it is a decision that Akan Kırşiat himself will make.

Asked to comment on this decision in relation to the property issue, the lawyer said that the property issue is one of the most difficult issues of the Cyprus problem.

“The Cyprus problem is a problem that has divided our country in two and is holding both the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots hostage,” he said, claiming that he believes that those who have suffered the greatest burden since 1974 are the Turkish Cypriot community.

Given this situation, he continued, he believes it is “catastrophically wrong” for the Republic of Cyprus to proceed with criminal prosecutions and issue European arrest warrants, bringing people to court.

“You cannot solve the issue of the rights of the Greek Cypriot community or the Republic of Cyprus by persecuting Turkish Cypriots, and even Turkish Cypriot citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. This is wrong, it is against human rights, it is not linked to the realities of the Cyprus problem, it does not contribute to the solution of the Cyprus problem, it will not help,” he said.

According to Esendagli, such a thing has implications for the relations of trust between the two communities and he expressed “hope and conviction” that “such an affair will not be repeated”.

Commenting further to the Cyprus Mail about the development of the British key witness death, the legal service said that they were informed by the Cyprus police on February 19, after the police had been informed by Interpol.

According to the legal service, the police had requested information on the witness from Interpol after Kursat’s arrest, and learned about the witness’ death after Kursat was returned to Cyprus.

Kursat was extradited to Cyprus earlier this month after having been arrested in Italy on New Year’s Eve pursuant to a European arrest warrant.

Following a court appearance on February 9, he was released pending a trial on February 29.

In a hearing at the Nicosia District court, he was ordered to hand over €10,000 in cash as a guarantee and €65,000 in two bank cheques from local banks. He was also required to present himself to the Ayios Dhometios police station on the first and third Monday of the month. But was allowed to travel back and forth between the north and the Republic.

He was represented in court by Rikkos Mappourides, who said he would plead not guilty to all 20 charges he faces.

Kursat consented to his own extradition on February 1 after having initially objected on the grounds that he would not be safe in a prison in the Republic, given that a Turkish Cypriot detainee had been killed in 2022.

As part of the same case, there are outstanding European arrest warrants for three others. They include British national Gary Robb, a convicted fraud who built properties on Greek Cypriot land in Klepini on a development known as the “Amaranta Valley Estate” which was never finished. The others are contractor Tuncel Tahir Soykan and construction engineer Kutsal Tokatlioglu.

Kursat, Soykan, and Tokatlioglu are believed to be linked to Robb’s company Aga Developments, which defrauded a total of 57 people into buying houses in the north which were never completed.

Robb had moved to the north and started the company after the nightclub he owned in his home country was raided by drugs officers in 1997.

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