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''Properties committee'' not consistent with Human Rights Convention, says lawyer
2006-06-23 11:58:21

Nicosia, Jun 23 (CNA) -- The so-called properties committee established in the Turkish-occupied areas for processing appeals by Greek Cypriots over their occupied properties cannot be considered by the European Court of Human Rights as an effective remedy to Turkey's violation of right to property, as the Court ruled on the December 22 2005 on the Myra Xenides - Aresti vs Turkey case, Arestis? lawyer Achilleas Demetriades said here Friday.

Demetriades gave today a press conference, one day after the deadline for Turkey to introduce to ECHR ''a remedy which secures the effective protection of the rights laid down by Articles 8 of the Convention and 1 of Protocol No 1''. The case is considered by the Court as a pilot case since it will apply to other Greek Cypriot appeals pending before the court.

The Court is expected to make its final ruling in four to six months, after allowing time for the parties involved to express their positions, while the party that will lose is entitled to refer the ruling before the ECHR plenary in the form of an appeal. Demetriades presented Arestis' position on June 20, while Turkey presented its position yesterday. Demetriades said he believes that Turkey will present the so-called properties committee as an effective remedy.

''I hope that things will go well. We did our job, we took legal advice from foreign experts and we did a thorough presentation and I hope that the Court will ascertain that this remedy is not consistent with the Human Rights Convention,'' Demetriades said, adding that ''this so-called committee cannot be approved by the Court.''

Demetriades said that last Friday he received by the ''committee'' a letter proposing compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage for Aresti's property and compensation for expropriation amounting 246.000 pounds, while the return of Aresti's property would be postponed after the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

''Our position is that this is unacceptable and for this reason we sent a letter to Turkey's Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe stating that if Aresti's property was not restored we would go ahead with the procedure,'' he added.

He also read out a written statement by Aresti, who notes that her ''main interest is the return of her property in occupied Famagusta and that compensation is a secondary issue.''

He also said that he is going to claim through the CoE procedures the Value Added Tax, that Turkey omitted to include in the 65.000 Euros the Court held that Turkey, as the respondent should pay Aresti for costs and expenses.

Replying to questions, Demetriades criticised Greek Cypriots who appeal to the so-called properties committee, noting their action was damaging. He explained that if there was a mass appeal by Greek Cypriots to this ''committee'', he would not be able to assert before the court that this ?committee? is not an effective remedy given the fact that a lot of people believe that they can get compensation or their properties back.''

Furthermore, in his letter to Turkey's Representative to the CoE, Demetriades raised the issue of economic costs for Turkey's continued violation of Greek Cypriot properties. He noted that if someone multiplies the 246.000 Cyprus pounds proposed to Aresti as compensation for her property, by 5.000, which is one third of the inhabitants of Famagusta before the 1974 Turkish invasion who owned properties like Aresti, then the compensation amount would rise to 1.25 billion pounds (2.5 bln dollars) and this would be for the fenced-off city of Famagusta alone.

''If I was Turkey's Finance Minister and all of a sudden Turkey's budget would have to reserve a fund of 2.5 bln dollars for Famagusta alone I would not be able to sleep'', Demetriades said.

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