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    call for criminal investigation into those who have fallen

    With the recommendation of the investigative journalist, Andreas Paraschos, to start a criminal investigation for omissions and actions of state officials concerning the long-term concealment of evidence of those who were fallen in 1974 who until 2000 were presented by South Cyprus as missing persons, with a huge mental cost for their relatives, agreed the chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the Parliament, AKEL MP, Irene Charalambidou, during yesterday’s almost three-hour meeting of the Committee.

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    The topic of discussion was the implementation and supervision of the recommendations of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) by South Cyprus in cases concerning it, but also in cases of reference of the Court, on the occasion of the announcement by the ECtHR on August 31, 2021 of its decision on the case of Christofi Vassiliou Ppasia, calling on the Cypriot state to pay almost €60,000 to relatives as non-material damage, along with expenses. Ppasias was considered missing for decades, when in fact he was killed during 1974 and his body was buried by the organs of the South Cyprus in the military cemetery of Lakatamia. South Cyprus was convicted of failing to inform the family of the 25-year delay in investigating the fate of the missing person.

    Similar is the case of the fallen during 1974 of Charalambos Palmas, who was also presented by the state as missing, while state officials had buried him in August 1974 in the cemetery of Lakatamia with the indication “unknown” in the tombstone. In 2012, the District Court of Nicosia heard the lawsuit filed in 2001 by his wife Andriani along with her daughters against the State and awarded general and punitive damages against the South Cyprus. The State had appealed the decisions in both of these cases.

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    Treatment for other cases

    “There were many crimes in Cyprus,” the President of the Commission said, “for which no one was tried and punished. This is the greatest of all, since for political expediency, people, children and women of those who served their country and gave their blood and souls were victimized, while others betrayed it.

    In the case of the missing persons, human lives were managed in the most criminal way, with amateurism and indifference, and whole families were torn apart, waiting with the doubt of what their own people became.

    Children grew up orphaned and the Legal Service of Cyprus had the audacity to set them up as witnesses and humiliate them through procedures, in order to pursue with zeal a vindication against the orphans and their wives who were killed and buried in the cemetery of Lakatamia under the inscription “unknown”… while on their bodies were their wedding rings, their leaves of course and no one was interested in investigating the obvious for 25 years.

    Achilleas Dimitriadis, a lawyer in the Ppasia case, said at the session that “of course there is the legal dimension to the issue, but above all there is the humanitarian dimension and in the humanitarian dimension the State has failed miserably.

    We still do not know why for 25 years after 1974 there had been no exhumations and no specific families had been notified and someone will have to answer somewhere, sometime.

    We still do not know why for 26 years the obvious has not been done, namely that the publication of the list of missing persons has not been made since 1974. There are the political responsibilities of the State and someone has to assume them not just by saying “sorry”. We owe the answer to these people. They are not begging, they are entitled to – and the system must ensure that right.”

    Speaking at the session, Vassilis Ppasias, with a strong emotional charge, said, among other things, that “my father did his duty, he did what he had to do for his homeland, but the state did not do what it had to do for the families of the missing and fallen. From 1974 until today no state official has visited our home to ask if we are well psychologically or financially, or in any other way.” In her brief testimony, his mother Georgia said, among other things, that due to the mental anguish from the loss of her husband, she was left for 6 years bedridden”, and my babies at that time had neither their father nor their mother…”.

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    In her own speech, Kalliopi Palma asked the question “what does the state intend to do to treat the families of the missing persons and in view of the fact that there are two court rulings for the Palma and Ppasia families? Does the Government consider it a “cure” to take families to the Courts for supposedly restoring the truth, when it knew with testimonies and evidence the reality? And by saying “sorry” that it came so late, does the problem solve? At the age of 52 I do not apologize to anyone, nor do I want to atle out or feel better, because whatever was to be done was done, whatever it was to suffer we endure. What we want is for the decision-makers to tell us what will happen to the affairs of the missing persons. We ask for the truth and the vindication of the rest of the families.”

    We note that on behalf of the Legal Service, Theodora Christodoulidou, stated at the meeting that South Cyprus must comply with the echr decision.

    The head of the scientific exhumation team, Xenophon Kallis, gave a thorough briefing on all cases of exhumations in the two cemeteries of Lakatamia and Saints Constantine and Helen and described as a complex issue the burials in South Cyprus. “I consider it an obligation,” he said, “as public officials to be transparent and to claim the right of every family to truth and justice.”

    Nikos Sergidis, president of the Pancyprian Organization of Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons, described as a substantial omission of the state that it did not implement regulations for our soldiers to carry a metal identity card.

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