NEWS

Turkish Cypriots are criticized for releasing murder suspects

NICOSIA (AP) – The division of Cyprus is thwarting attempts to prosecute eight people wanted for the murder of a millionaire businessman, his wife and teenage daughter. Cyprus and the UN peace force on the island on Tuesday criticized the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot statelet for releasing the eight suspects from jail. The eight men, all Turkish Cypriots, were detained in the Turkish-occupied north of the island days after Elmas Ali Guzelyurtlu, 52, his wife Zerrin, 50, and their 16-year-old daughter Eylul were found shot dead on January 15. They had been kidnapped from their home in southern Cyprus hours earlier and were found slain in the family car along the Nicosia-Larnaca highway. The Turkish-Cypriot officials said they freed the suspects Tuesday because they had neither the evidence to put them on trial nor a law under which they could be extradited. «This is a very unpleasant development,» Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said. «By releasing the suspects, the authorities of the occupying regime encourage crime and give the impression that the occupied northern part of Cyprus is a refuge for suspects and criminals.» Papadopoulos’s government had appealed through the United Nations for the suspects to be handed over for trial. Cypriot police issued warrants of arrest for the eight suspects, saying they had strong evidence implicating them in the murder. But they refused to give the evidence to Turkish-Cypriot police, insisting that the suspects should be tried in the south as the crime was committed there. The spokesman for the UN peace force, Brian Kelly, told reporters, «We consider the release of the suspects an unfortunate development.» The UN force «did try to facilitate the investigative process and conveyed information between the two sides and will continue to stand by to help in this regard,» Kelly added. Guzelyurtlu incurred the wrath of many Turkish Cypriots when the bank he ran in the north collapsed in 2002. He then moved to the south. The following year, restrictions on travel between northern and southern Cyprus were lifted.