Nicosia denounced as «illegal and totally groundless» yesterday a decision by the Turkish-Cypriot leadership to open up ports in the occupied territories to international trade. Foreign Minister George Iacovou said that only the Cypriot government had the authority to declare the ports in the northern part of Cyprus, which has been occupied by Turkey since 1974, legally open. Currently, only ships from Turkey dock at harbors in the occupied part of the island. Iacovou said that Nicosia did not feel it necessary to make representations about the issue. Meanwhile, the Cypriot government spokesman, Kypros Chrysostomides, said that he hoped the start of excavation work by international forensic scientists in the occupied territories to find mass graves would progress despite persistent obstructions from Turkish-Cypriot leaders. The experts began working in Trachona, near occupied Nicosia, on Wednesday but the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot sides have indicated up to 25 spots where mass graves may be located on the island.