Remains of missing Greek nationals to be unearthed

The exhumation process of the remains of Greek nationals killed in the intercommunal strife in 1964 and during the Turkish invasion of 1974 began on Monday in Nicosia.

Six of the Greek nationals were among the crew of Faethon Greek patrol boat when it was bombed by Turkish fighter jets, off Xeros in Morphou Bay, on August 8, 1964.

The remains of another five Greek nationals are buried next to the six at the Agios Constantinou and Eleni cemetery in Nicosia.

After a prayer service in the presence of Humanitarian Commissioner Fotis Fotiou, National Guard Commander Elias Leontari and the Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons Nestoras Nestoros, Fotiou said that the identification of the remains of the 11 Greeks will take place within the next three months.

He said that many mistakes and errors occurred many years ago, forcing the authorities to proceed with the exhumation, as in many cases the wrong remains had been given to relatives.

Fotiou apologized on behalf of the state, for putting relatives through a new ordeal. “We honour the heroes and their relatives”, he said and assured that the state will stand by the relatives during this difficult process.

He also said that 43 years after the Turkish invasion and 53 after the intercommunal fighting in 1963-1964, there are still missing persons and funerals take place, noting that there are still 950 missing persons unaccounted for.

The President of the Republic, said Fotiou, has set the missing persons issue high on the agenda and the negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, however Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side refuse to give information, especially about mass graves.

He assured that the struggle will continue so that there will be answers for every single missing person and praised Greece and the relatives of those who were sacrificed for freedom. This time, he said, no mistake will take place.

Fotiou also said that after the exhumations at the cemetery, the government will begin a new round of exhumations at the Athalassa hospital grounds to locate and identify the remains of 31 patients killed when the Turkish air force bombed the psychiatric facility in Nicosia in 1974.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have been engaged in UN-led talks since May 2015, with a view to reunite the island under a federal roof.

Source: Cyprus News Agency