NEWS

The search for Turk-Cypriot graves is on

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus has started an investigation to find the graves of Turkish Cypriots killed in fighting in 1974 and listed as missing, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Missing persons is one of the most emotive issues separating ethnic Greeks and Turks of divided Cyprus, where a major UN reunification effort is now under way. An international team of forensics experts has started work on a site in southwestern Cyprus, where 19 people, including 14 Turkish-Cypriot males, were killed on July 20, 1974. The 14 are officially registered as missing. «Our aim is to eventually hand over their remains to relatives so these people can have a proper, dignified burial,» a Greek-Cypriot official told Reuters. The victims were buried by Greek Cypriots in the rural community of Alaminos, which was a mixed-community village before 1974. Authorities are hoping to identify remains through DNA matching with living relatives. Turkish-Cypriot relatives have not yet given samples to a DNA bank for matching, an authoritative source said. Greek Cypriots say more than 1,400 people from their community have been missing since a Turkish invasion in 1974, which followed a brief Greek-inspired coup. The Turkish Cypriots say around 800 of their own have been unaccounted for since intercommunal fighting dating from the 1960s. Exhumation of unmarked graves and DNA matching over the past three years have conclusively identified more than 100 Greek Cypriots who were officially listed as missing. The United Nations is pressing the two sides to accept a reunification blueprint before the island is invited to join the EU at a summit in Copenhagen on December 12.