NEWS

Greek Cypriot ‘was beaten’

A Greek-Cypriot smuggling suspect who died of a heart attack in Turkish-Cypriot custody had been beaten in detention, Cypriot state radio quoted a coroner as saying yesterday. State coroner Eleni Antoniou said she had established that Stephis Stephanou, 64, was the «victim of a beating» before his November 1 death in the Turkish-Cypriot sector of the divided capital, Nicosia, according to RIK radio. She did not say whether that contributed to the man's death. Stephanou was a former Irish honorary consul and founding member of the co-ruling party DIKO. His body was brought to the Greek-Cypriot south on Saturday. An earlier autopsy by Turkish-Cypriot officials concluded that Stephanou had died of a heart attack and suffered cracked ribs during resuscitation attempts to save him. A doctor for the Stephanou family, Panos Stavrinos, disputes those findings, saying that the rib injuries were too low to be caused by resuscitation efforts, state radio said. Turkish-Cypriot media have reported allegations that Stephanou tried to steal valuable religious artifacts from a house in northern Nicosia. There has been no official response from the island's internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government but Stephanou's family is treating his death as «suspicious.» The government requested through the United Nations that Stephanou's body be handed back across the UN-patrolled ceasefire line for forensic examination. His friends said that Stephanou was only interested in saving Greek Orthodox icons plundered when Turkish troops invaded the island's northern third after a Greek-Cypriot coup in 1974 aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

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