Top Cyprus court backs traveler

NICOSIA (AFP) – The supreme court of Cyprus yesterday rejected a government appeal against a lower court decision not to punish a Greek Cypriot who flew to Turkey from the island’s occupied north. Attorney-General Solon Nikitas had challenged the decision by a Nicosia district court not to penalize the 56-year-old for the «illegal journey» to Istanbul. Nicosia holds that northern ports and airports are illegal, and travel through them to or from the south is an offense. Nikitas argued that the lower court should have punished Neophytos Constantinou, as he had pleaded guilty. Nikitas asked the supreme court to refer the case back for sentencing. But the supreme court said the procedures followed were «legally proper.» The lower court argued that targeting Greek Cypriots was discriminatory, as under EU law, all EU citizens must be able to move freely within the bloc’s external borders and their own country. It observed that the government itself had declared that no EU nationals or Cypriots would be prosecuted on this issue. It is quicker and cheaper to fly to Turkey from the north than from the south.

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