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27° Nicosia,
15 September, 2019
 
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Three EU students in court for entering fenced-off Varosha

International exchange students from south cross into north and get arrested in ghost town

Newsroom

Three international students, who were arrested in the ghost town of Varosha last week, went before a judge on Tuesday to answer to charges including trespassing in a military zone.

The incident was reported Monday in the Turkish Cypriot press, saying two students from Latvia and one from Poland entered the closed-off Varosha by cutting a wire fence.

The three students aged between 21-24, who attend a university in the Republic of Cyprus in the south, allegedly took items from abandoned buildings, such as keys and souvenirs, according to local reports.

But Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen wrote Tuesday that the theft allegations were unconfirmed.

The students took items from abandoned buildings according to local reports, but the allegations were unconfirmed according to Turkish Cypriot daily Yeni Duzen

The trial took place in a Turkish military court, according to daily Phileleftheros, where the students heard charges against them, including having taken over 30 photographs using their mobile phones as well as taking items from abandoned homes.

Turkish Cypriot officials are reportedly making an effort for the students to meet with the ambassadors of their countries in the buffer zone.

Varosha is a ghost town in the Famagusta district of Cyprus, where it was inhabited predominantly by Greek Cypriots before summer 1974.

Now it is an abandoned town under Turkish military control and cannot be repopulated by people other than its original residents according to a UN resolution.

But an ethnic conflict on the island in the 1960’s, which was followed by a short-lived military coup engineered by Athens in July 1974, prompted Turkey to intervene militarily by invading one-third of the island.

Turkey, which is the only country that recognises the northern part, says it won’t return the town unless there is a settlement to the political problem.

Division still exists between the two communities, Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north, even though checkpoints have been open since 2003 for people to cross back and forth.

Local and EU citizens, as well as foreigners who hold legal RoC documents, can freely cross the checkpoints, but there are restrictions on merchandise and other conditions. 

UN-backed efforts to unite the island under a bizonal, bicommunal, federal system have failed over the last half-century, with recent talks collapsing and with very few if any positive signs in the horizon.

The two communities have tried to coordinate on police matters between the two sides but this has proven to be a challenge due to the political problem on the island.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Varosha  |  ghost town  |  Turkey  |  military  |  student  |  university

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