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Cyprus government would welcome progress in issue of missing
2005-01-07 10:31:39

Nicosia, Jan 7 (CNA) -- The Cyprus government would welcome as a positive step any progress in the issue of missing persons, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides has said, adding that no mass graves have been located so far in the northern Turkish occupied areas.

His comments come as experts from the British foundation INFORCE, in the presence of local observers, are carrying out exploratory investigation with regard to one of three sites presented by the Turkish Cypriot side in 1998, where people killed during the 1974 Turkish invasion are believed to have been buried.

''If there is any progress, that will be a positive step in the right direction to establish the fate of missing persons. There has not been any concrete result so far,'' he said.

He noted that the Turkish side has not been forthcoming up to now, especially in investigating and talking to witnesses to find out what has happened to persons who were alive in 1974 and whose names were later included in the list of missing persons.

Chrysostomides said the exploratory investigation is carried out by INFORCE and if a mass grave is located, the Greek Cypriot side proposes to have remains unearthed examined by the DNA method at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics.

''On this specific matter, we expect to have an agreement,'' he added.

INFORCE experts are working in the area of Trahonas, north of Nicosia, where the Greek Cypriot side believes there must be a mass grave.

Responding to questions, the spokesman said the exploratory investigation in occupied Cyprus is linked to the discussion at the Council of Europe for the implementation of a European Court of Human Rights decision on the issue of missing persons.

The Court found Turkey guilty of violating the human rights of the relatives of Greek Cypriot missing persons and called on Ankara to carry out effective and substantive investigation on their fate.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is set to discuss Turkey's compliance with the Court ruling in early February.

The Cypriot government has submitted to the tripartite Committee of Missing Persons (CMP), comprising one representative from each side and a UN envoy, for investigation 1493 cases of Cypriot and Greek nationals listed as missing, a number that includes women, children, elderly persons and members of the National Guard.

Of the 1493 cases, the remains of 14 missing persons have been identified through the DNA process when the government of the Republic embarked unilaterally on a process of exhumation and identification of remains. Therefore the CMP now has before it 1479 cases to investigate.

There are also another 107 cases of Greek Cypriot and Greek missing persons whose files have not been submitted to the CMP and whose families have been informed as to the reasons why the specific files were not presented to the CMP. The Cypriot authorities continue to investigate these cases.

In addition to that, there are 50 cases of Greek Cypriots missing since the 1963-64 period, when inter-communal fighting occurred.

The CMP has the files of 500 Turkish Cypriot missing persons from 1963-64 and 1974.

The Greek Cypriot side has handed to the CMP information on more than 350 cases of Turkish Cypriots listed as missing, which gives full account as to the fate of these persons.

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