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29 September, 2020
 
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Identification of remains found at Athalassa Hospital to start soon, says Presidential Commissioner

The two sides renew their commitment to continue their cooperation, said Fotiou after signing the agreement.

Newsroom / CNA

Procedures to identify the remains of 11 Cypriots, excavated last year in the area where they have been buried since the 1974 Turkish invasion, next to Athalassa Hospital in Nicosia, will start soon, Presidential Commissioner Fotis Fotiou has said.

In statements on Friday, Fotiou said that an expert was expected to arrive soon from abroad and anthropological and scientific procedures at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics (CING) would follow suit.

The Presidential Commissioner met today at CING Headquarters with the President and members of the Board and signed an agreement with Leonidas Phylactou, the Chief Executive Medical Director of CING, to renew cooperation in the identification of remains belonging to fallen and missing persons.

With today’s agreement, the two sides renew their commitment to continue their cooperation, said Fotiou after signing the agreement. Phylactou noted from his part that CING remains always at the disposal of the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Ioannis Matsis, the President of the Board, assured from his part that the Institute is always close to the needs of the society and the government in helping to address this humanitarian issue.

The Presidential Commissioner said that CING and the Republic of Cyprus started officially cooperating in 2001 on the issue of missing persons. More recently, the two sides worked together during the excavations that took place in 2017 next to Athalassa Hospital, in Nicosia. A number of hospital inmates, including 3 Turkish Cypriots, were reportedly buried there after being killed in the summer of 1974, when the hospital was attacked during the Turkish invasion.

Although the authorities were searching for the remains of 31 people, only 11 were found. More skeletal samples were found in nearby graves. According to Fotiou, the authorities received information that two of those 31 were later buried in a Nicosia cemetery.

The Presidential Commissioner assured that efforts to locate the remains of these people will continue and called on anyone who knows something, to report it to the authorities.

During today’s meeting at CING, Fotiou also said that they discussed developments concerning the remains which have been covered with chemical substances. The authorities are in contact with a laboratory in the US, as well as in the UK for this matter, he added.

The Presidential Commissioner underlined finally the state’s obligation to continue until the fate of all missing persons is established.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

Hundreds of Greek Cypriots went missing during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, most of them combatants but also women, children and elderly people. During the same period and in the early 1960 when intercommunal fighting broke out Turkish Cypriots went missing too.

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