Greek Cypriot 'beaten' before fatal heart attack in Turkish Cypriot custody
The Associated Press
Published: November 4, 2007
NICOSIA, Cyprus: A Greek Cypriot smuggling suspect who died of a heart attack in Turkish Cypriot custody had been beaten in detention, state radio quoted a coroner as saying Sunday.
State coroner Eleni Antoniou said she established Stephis Stephanou, 64, was the "victim of a beating" before his Nov. 1 death in the Turkish-Cypriot sector of the divided capital, Nicosia, according to RIK radio. She did not say whether that contributed to the man's death.
Stephanou was a former Irish honorary consul and founding member of the co-ruling party Diko. His body was brought to the Greek Cypriot south on Saturday.
An initial autopsy by a Turkish-Cypriot coroner failed to establish the exact cause of death, a United Nations spokesman told The Associated Press.
Stephanou reportedly was arrested Oct. 18 in northern Nicosia on charges of antiquities smuggling, and was twice taken to hospital because of health problems.
The Mediterranean island has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974, when Turkey invaded after an abortive Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.
Former consul Stephanou dies in Turkish Cypriot custody
By Jean Christou
3 November 2007
THE FORMER consul of Ireland in Cyprus Stephanos Stephanou has died in Turkish Cypriot custody after being detained on October 18 on accusations of smuggling antiquities.
The cause of Stephanou’s death was not officially known, although it is believed he was not in good health and had been further weakened by his detention in the north. He was 64.
Stephanou was well known on the island, having been the Irish consul for many years before Ireland opened a fully-fledged embassy and appointed an ambassador ahead of Cyprus EU entry.
A statement from the Stephanou family yesterday asked that the media to respect their privacy in this difficult time.
Efforts are now being made through the UN for the return of his body to the government-controlled areas, where an official post-mortem will be carried out. Reports said yesterday that Stephanou was taken to hospital three days after he was arrested and then returned to custody. He was returned to hospital the night before he died.
An UNFICYP spokesman said: “We know he was detained and we know there were concerns expressed by the family for his health.
“We made representations but sadly he has died.”
The spokesman said he was unaware of the precise charges levelled against Stephanou by the north’s authorities.
According to Turkish Cypriot press reports, on October 18 police in the north arrested four people, among them a Greek Cypriot on charges of smuggling antiquities. The report was not given wide coverage on the Greek Cypriot side.
It appears police were staking out a house in the north of Nicosia where they suspected stolen antiquities were being stored. They suspected the items were to be moved to the south of the island.
Stephanou was one of the people who emerged from the house and Turkish Cypriot police assumed he was involved.
The reports said the antiquities found in the house included the head of a statue, an armless and neckless statue, a figure of a small horse, two figures of birds and a needle, the head of which presents the figure of a lion. It is likely the antiquities were of Hellenic origin.
The three Turkish Cypriots arrested were named as Turgut Goztasi, Galip Arnavut and Mehmet Asvaroglu.