ECHR:Cyprus and Turkey failed to effectively investigate a murder case due to lack of cooperation

Lack of cooperation between Cyprus and Turkey resulted in an ineffective investigation in a murder case, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said on Tuesday in its judgement concerning a case related to the murder of three Turkish Cypriots who were shot dead in the southern government-controlled areas of Cyprus on 15 January 2005.

The Court held by five votes to two, that there had been a violation of Article 2 (right to life/investigation) of the European Convention on Human Rights by Cyprus and, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 2 (right to life/investigation) of the European Convention by Turkey.

As noted in a press release issued concerning the ECHR judgement, the killers of Elmas Guzelyurtlu, his wife Zerrin and their daughter Eylul Guzelyurtlu, “fled back to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (the TRNC),” the unilaterally declared puppet regime set up in Cyprus northern Turkish occupied areas which is only recognized by Turkey.

“Parallel investigations into the murders were conducted by the authorities of the Cypriot Government and the Turkish Government, including those of the TRNC. The TRNC authorities insisted that the case file containing the evidence against the suspects be handed over so that they could conduct a prosecution,” the press release noted.

It added that “the Cypriot authorities refused,” and that “on the strength of the evidence gathered during their investigation, the Cypriot authorities sought the extradition of the suspects who were within Turkey’s jurisdiction (either in the TRNC or in mainland Turkey) with a view to their trial. The extradition requests were returned to the Cypriot authorities without reply.”

As it is noted, “the investigations of both respondent States thus reached an impasse in 2008” and the seven applicants, relatives of the victims, “complained that both the Cypriot and Turkish authorities (including those of the TRNC) have failed to co-operate and conduct an effective investigation into the killing of their relatives.”

“The Court found that, where – as in the applicants’ case – the investigation of unlawful killings unavoidably implicated more than one State, the States concerned were obliged to cooperate effectively and take all reasonable steps necessary to facilitate and realise an effective investigation into the case overall,” the press release said.

However, it added, “it was clear from all the material before the Court, that both Governments had not been prepared to make any compromise on their positions and find middle ground, despite various options having been put forward, including by the United Nations.”

“That position arose from political considerations which reflected the long-standing and intense political dispute between Cyprus and Turkey. A situation thus resulted in which the respondent Governments’ respective investigations – which the Court found adequate up until the impasse – remain open. Nothing has therefore been done for more than eight years to bring to a close what is ultimately a straightforward case,” the ECHR ruled according to the press release.

The Court held, by five votes to two, that each respondent Government was to pay each applicant 8,500 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage.

Cypriot judge Georgios Serghides and the judge from Andorra Pere Pastor Vilanova expressed each a partly dissenting opinion. These opinions are annexed to the judgement.

Source: Cyprus News Agency