Positive developments in the search for Turkish Cypriots who disappeared in the Tochni area of Limassol in 1974 may pave the way for locating other graves of the missing.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily yesterday, Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) Theofilos Theofilou said that due to the sensitive nature of the exhumations programme he could not yet confirm whether a second mass grave containing remains of missing Turkish Cypriots had been found but noted that there have been “positive developments.”
“As always we are continuing our efforts to identify the remains of the missing. The first results from the new exhumations in this area have been very positive and this is all we can say at present.”
The CMP in 2010 announced that it had identified the remains of 40 Turkish Cypriots found inside a mass grave near Tochni.
The exhumation was launched based on reports that 85 Turkish Cypriots from Tochni, who were arrested illegally on August 15, 1974 by Greek Cypriot paramilitaries, were executed near Palodia in Limassol.
The bodies are believed to have been transferred in two buses to the Pareklissia area and hastily buried in two mass graves near a quarry.
While to date only one of the graves has been discovered the “positive results” mentioned by the CMP may be an indication that the remaining bodies been found.
If the remains of all the Tochni missing are identified this may well help the authorities convince the Turkish army to open access to military zones in the north where the remains of missing Greek Cypriots are believed to be buried.
Relatives of the Tochni missing were among the first to provide blood samples for DNA identification following a government appeal in 2011.
The tripartite CMP conducts an exhumations programme on both sides of the divide while to date only around half the Greek, and Turkish Cypriots declared missing have been located.