Cyprus will cover the cost for the identification of 2,500 bones of missing persons, Photiou says

Presidential Commissioner, Photis Photiou, announced that the Republic of Cyprus will release the amount of €1.2 million, for the identification of 2,500 small bones.

In statements after having briefed MPs, in Parliament, Photiou said the procedure of identifying the bones, which mainly belong to people from the Turkish occupied village of Asha, needs to move forward, even if the Republic of Cyprus has to cover the cost, it case it exceeds the financial capacity of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP). “We have an obligation to do our utmost, regardless the outcome of the identification procedure,” he stressed.

According to the Commissioner “approximately 750 cases of missing persons, almost 50% of the total cases, are still not resolved.” Photiou pointed out that the intransigent attitude of Turkey that still refuses grant access to the archives of the Turkish army, which would be the safest source of information about the location mass graves and transferred bones, continues to be the main obstacle in the CMP’s work.

“The majority of the bones that we are looking for at the moment, have been relocated”, said the Commissioner, who mentioned that the relocation of remains are mainly associated with the massacres of women, children and elders in Asha. He added that the CMP should proceed with excavations and exhumations in Turkish occupied Dikomo, following the information for relocations, coming from the Turkish Cypriot side.

The Commissioner described the issue of the identification of bones which have been sprayed (50-60 boxes of them) as an “open wound”. He said that samples were sent to Spain for tests, but did not appear optimistic about the outcome.

He further noted that Cyprus undertakes informative initiatives about the issue at UN and EU level, so that they in turn can exert pressure on Turkey, to change its attitude.

There are 900 more persons to be identified

Leonidas Pantelides, the Greek Cypriot Representative in the CMP, announced that last year 37 persons were identified, of whom 29 were missing persons and 6 were war victims of the Turkish invasion.

According to Pantelides, there was a decrease in CMP’s outcomes in the past months, but he appeared hopeful for a positive change of this rate. As he said, at the moment CMP has remains that could be identified for up to 100 more persons. Still, there are 900 more persons in CMP’s list, who have not been identified yet.

Regarding the 2,500 small fragments of bones that have not been identified, he mentioned that the CMP will process the proposal of the Presidential Commissioner, to allow the process to move forward. A explained by Pantelides, every little piece of bone has to be tested separately, as it is very difficult to assembly such small samples and determine to whom they used to belong.

He said that the Committee is looking for new technologies that will facilitate the research, such as ultrasound radars, as well as drones with special cameras that can locate any differences on the ground of the vegetation, which are not visible to bare eyes.

Expecting the expert from Portugal since August 2021

The recruitment of the expert from Portugal, who is expected to guide the excavation in a garbage dump, where bones seem to have been relocated, is still pending.

The expert will come to Cyprus for four months, with a team of four, to provide guidance to CMP staff, on how they should handle the matter. He was expected to arrive in August, but his contract has been delayed, due to a delay in the approval of his payment.

The Members of the Parliament that participated in the meeting of the Committee for Refugees, welcomed the government’s decision to cover the cost for the identification of 2,500 bones, which will add up to €1.2 million, as each test costs €500.

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