A Turkish Cypriot landowner seeking damages from expropriation in Paphos lost his appeal case not by eminent domain but on a technicality, after the Supreme Court ruled he sued the state prematurely and not through proper channels.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal in a rejected lawsuit against the attorney general of the Republic of Cyprus, the interior minister, and Hermes Airports, filed in March 2012 by a Turkish Cypriot landowner living in north Nicosia, whose land in his native village in the south was acquired in late 1994 and partially used for building Paphos International Airport.
Paphos District Court had originally rejected the lawsuit seeking damages, for a plot of 13824 square metres being used for the airport, while the rest of the property, 4,014 sq.m. was given to a displaced person for agrarian use.
While the state was solely responsible for the properties in the early years of the Republic, the district judge dismissed the lawsuit citing a 1991 law, which brought the interior ministry into the mix.
'The plaintiff raises a human rights violation issue but does not seem to have fulfilled a prerequisite as stated in Article 6A which calls for a claim to be submitted first to the Minister'
“The plaintiff raises a human rights violation issue but he does not seem to have fulfilled a prerequisite as stated in Article 6A which calls for a claim to be submitted first to the Minister,” the lower court had ruled, adding that there were indeed claims but not related to issues as per the law.
In this week’s Supreme Court decision, presided by Chief Justice Panayi and delivered by Judge Yiasemis, it was pointed out that while the applicant submitted letters with a lawsuit claiming his rights had been violated, he did not argue that his rights had been violated as stated in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The new and amended law made the interior ministry a “guardian” of Turkish Cypriot properties in the south, with the task of protecting properties until a peace settlement could be reached between the two sides of the divided island.
“It is clear, in the regulations, that adherence to the procedure, namely filing a claim first with the Interior Minister and having it rejected, is a prerequisite before an appeal with a district court could be allowed,” the Supreme Court ruled.
The ECHRFF includes a reference to the right to an effective remedy, while parties to the Convention undertake to secure these rights and freedoms to everyone within their jurisdiction.
This week’s ruling did not close the door to the landowner, with the Supreme Court saying he could have a chance to file a new lawsuit after going through the proper channels.
The Supreme Court ordered the landowner to pay court fees and expenses to the tune of €3,000 divided equally between the state and interior ministry, as well as any calculated VAT in favour of the airport.