Attorney-General (AG) George Savvides on Friday hit back at what he called criticism after the legal service advised the Nicosia court to suspend the trial of a Turkish Cypriot lawyer accused of exploiting Greek Cypriot properties in the north.

According to the court, the trial of Akan Kursat, which was due to start on Thursday was suspended because the key witness, a Briton, had died.

The court said the legal service had only learned from Interpol of the prosecution witness’ death on February 19, and that there was now no testimony against Kursat, who had been linked to a dodgy property sale in Klepini, Kyrenia involving British convicted fraudster Gary Robb.

The identity of the dead witness slated to testify at the Kursat trial has not been released.

On Friday, following the trial suspension, the AG was quizzed by journalists over why it had been suspended. Savvides said the legal service had assessed existing testimony and, as is usual in such cases, reported to the court in detail the reasons that led to the decision to suspend the criminal prosecution.

“I think the statement filed in court was perfectly clear and self-explanatory and I would suggest that anyone who criticises the way the case was handled by the legal service to at least read what was said in court,” he said.

Although most of the island’s political parties stayed silent for the most part, the Greens said in a statement: “The whole process is a simplistic attempt to insult our intelligence.”

“It can only be described as a clumsy political manoeuvre by which not only one person involved in the sale of occupied Greek Cypriot property was acquitted but also through him the entire system of selling off the properties in the occupied areas.”

Questions have been raised in relation to why there was only one prosecution witness when there were over 330 buyers involved in the Klepini development, and when did the witness actually die.

The Greens said there were “many accomplices” involved in the whole debacle. The party also alluded to the silence from the rest of the “political arena”, which reeked of complicity.

“The arrest of the Turkish Cypriot in Italy on December 30, 2023 highlighted once again the – for many years – undeniable but also inexplicable inaction, negligence and inaction of the Republic of Cyprus to use the specific provisions of the Cypriot legislation as well as international conventions,” the party said.

It added that by the time the Cyprus issue is resolved, the de facto situation on the ground as regards property will be what determines the form of a solution with regard to territorial issues.

“Stop covering up the ongoing crime. There seems to be involvement of many others on both sides of the dividing line,” the Greens said.

Kursat was extradited to Cyprus last 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 trial set for 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.

Speaking after Thursday’s 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 was a decision that his client would take himself.

As part of the same case, there were outstanding European arrest warrants for three others. They included 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 were contractor Tuncel Tahir Soykan and construction engineer Kutsal Tokatlioglu.

Kursat, Soykan, and Tokatlioglu were 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.