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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cyprus soldier buried 35 years on

(BBC) - The funeral has taken place in Cyprus of one of five Greek Cypriot prisoners of war killed during the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974.

Ioannis Papayiannis was one of five soldiers photographed surrendering to Turkish forces during the invasion.

The soldiers' bodies were identified this week, 35 years after they were killed and thrown down a well.

The remains were recovered from a well in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus in 2006 along with 14 other bodies.

Greece and Cyprus have called on Turkey to clear up all the cases of people who went missing during the invasion.

Limited remains

Draped in a Cypriot flag, the coffin of Ioannis Papayiannis was escorted into church by a military guard of honour, reports the BBC's Tabitha Morgan from Cyprus.

The coffin itself was very small, suggesting that forensic anthropologists had been able to retrieve only limited skeletal remains, says our correspondent.

At the front of the church members of the Papayiannis family stood to receive respects from the hundreds of mourners present.

Nicos Theodosiou, head of the Committee for the Relatives of Missing Persons, said he had has been to many funerals like this.

"I observed the parents going through pain of losing a son like the person died in a car accident the day before," he said.

"It doesn't make any difference that you were waiting and hoping and you knew at the back of your mind that maybe he's dead.

"It's a whole different thing to be given the remains and told these are the remains of your son - it's like he died yesterday."

For some families services such as this will enable them to move on, says our correspondent.

Others feel that while forensic science may provide answers to how their relatives died, they still want to see the killers brought to justice.

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