The relatives of the 16 Greek soldiers who were killed by friendly fire during the Turkish invasion in 1974 while on board the NORATLAS, visited the Committee on Missing Persons laboratory, in Nicosia and were briefed on the work done once the remains were excavated and identified.
All were on board NORATLAS aircraft, which was buried near the now defunct Nicosia Airport. Noratlas was one of several Greek air force plans sent to Cyprus as reinforcements to fight the advancing Turkish troops. The NORATLAS aircraft with all the remains was excavated earlier this year.
Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues and Overseas Cypriots Photis Photiou who accompanied the relatives said that this visit is the most difficult for the relatives.
He extended once more the state`s apology “because what is happening today, could have taken place years ago.”
Unfortunately, we cannot turn back time, he noted, adding however that the aim of the visit was to brief relatives about the process followed.
We aim to give relatives “persuasive, scientific, documented explanations,” Photiou said
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. As a result of the invasion, many Greek Cypriots were listed as missing, most of whom soldiers or reservists, who were captured in the battlefield.
A Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) was established, upon agreement between the leaders of the island`s two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.