Saturday, December 25, 2004

Mass Graves In Cyprus


26 December 2004

Experts to probe mass graves

By Menelaos Hadjicostis

A team of forensics experts is set to return to the island next month to start exploratory work at one of three sites in the Turkish-held north said to be mass graves where Greek Cypriot missing persons are believed buried.

The experts from the UK-based International Forensic Centre of Excellence for the Investigation of Genocide (INFORCE) will conduct an "exploratory investigation" at the site to positively identify it as a mass grave.

The site is believed to contain the remains of as many as 200 missing Greek Cypriots killed during the first phase of the Turkish invasion between July 20 and August 14, 1974.

The expert from the INFORCE Foundation...who came to the island in October for the first geophysical survey of certain burial sites is expected to come again with additional experts and equipment in January, 2005, said a statement from the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP).

Work is expected to be carried out through the second week of January. The experts' findings will be disclosed to the three CMP members who will then decide on whether to give the go-ahead to full-scale exhumations.

The site, situated between Nicosia's northern suburbs and the occupied village Hamit Mandres, is one of three which Turkish Cypriots had identified in 1998 as mass graves.

There are 1,586 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish Cypriots officially listed as having gone missing from the outbreak of intercommunal violence in the early 1960s to and including the invasion.

Non-profit INFORCE had been tapped by the CMP to spearhead exhumations of mass graves on both sides of the divide.

The Centre is part of the Technology and Law department of the University of Bournemouth, whose personnel have worked in international hotspots such as Bosnia, Guatemala and Rwanda.

Meanwhile, there doesnOt appear to be much progress in the CMPOs parallel task of investigating cases of disappeared Greek Cypriots last seen alive in the hands of Turkish soldiers 30 years ago.

The Turkish Cypriot side is accused of "unjustifiably" delaying the investigations despite repeated pledges to immediately begin work.

It's understood that the Greek Cypriot side has furnished Turkish Cypriot CMP member Rustem Tatar with information on the disappearance of over 70% of missing Turkish Cypriots.

OEfforts to complete the investigation of the cases submitted by both sides at the commencement of the 84th session will be continued. It is hoped that satisfactory results will be obtained as soon as possible, the CMP press release said.

Copyright (C) 2004 Cyprus Weekly


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