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Society

Witness Dies: Cyprus Suspends Property Trial of Turkish-Cypriot Lawyer

NICOSIA – The trial of a Turkish-Cypriot lawyer, Akan Kursat, accused of brokering deals to sell property still owned by Greek-Cypriots on the occupied side of the island, was suspended after the key witness died, Attorney-General George Savvides defended the move.

The trial was due to begin on February 29 on the Greek-Cypriot side, which is a member of the European Union, and the decision not to proceed drew harsh criticism and allegations that the lawyer was being let off.

The Cyprus Mail reported that the court said the legal service received information from Interpol about the death of the prosecution witness on February 19, and there was no testimony against Kursat, linked to a property sale in Klepini, Kyrenia involving British convicted fraudster Gary Robb.

The name of the witness, a Briton, has not been released, and Savvides was questioned by reporters over the case and why there weren’t more witnesses. The AG said, “I think the statement filed in court was perfectly clear and self-explanatory, and I would suggest that anyone who criticizes the way the case was handled by the legal service to at least read what was said in court.”

Most political parties declined to comment, but the Greens said, “It can only be described as a clumsy political maneuver by which not only one person involved in the sale of occupied Greek-Cypriot property was acquitted but also through him the entire system of selling off the properties in the occupied areas.”

Questions have been raised regarding why there was only one prosecution witness when there were over 330 buyers involved in the Klepini development and when the witness actually died, the newspaper said.

A United Nations resolution, which has no legal weight, stated that properties owned by Greek-Cypriots when Turkish invasions in 1974 seized the northern third of the island still belong to them half a century later.

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