Turkey on Trial

Turkey to stand trial on shooting of Greek-Cypriot



IN A case that is likely to impact on ongoing efforts towards a solution of the Cyprus problem, the European Court of Human Rights has agreed to the admissibility of a case against Turkey filed by the father and siblings of a Greek-Cypriot killed by Turkish troops during a 1996 protest on the island.

"On 14 August 1996, Solomos Solomou tried to climb up a pole where a Turkish flag was flying in Derinia in Cyprus. His aim was to bring the Turkish flag down in order to protest against the presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus. While he was still on the lower part of the pole and had not even touched the flag, he was shot repeatedly by Turkish soldiers who were within a short distance. He died instantly," read the portion of the court's May 18 decision regarding the facts of the case. Solomou was one of 300 protesters who marched into the UN-administered buffer zone separating the Republic of Cyprus from the Turkish-occupied north to lay a wreath at the site where his cousin, 24-year-old Tassos Isaac, was bludgeoned to death three days earlier by Turkish ultra-right-wing nationalist "Grey Wolves". At the time, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash claimed that bullets ricocheted off the flagpole.

The admissibility of a separate suit on the Isaac case is still pending "because of a pure accident of procedure" but is more than likely to be accepted, a court official told the Athens News. A hearing on the merits of the Solomou case - after which both oral and written arguments will be reviewed - is not likely before the end of the year. While the decision's reference to "Turkish troops" immediately brings into play Turkey's 25-year occupation of almost 40 percent of Cyprus, Ankara failed to respond to the court's October 20, 1997, request that it submit observations on the case, which was filed in February, 1997. The court finally refused Ankara's fourth request for an extension in one year, in November, 1998, as it was "submitted after the expiry of the time-limit". The court accepted the Solomos family's suit based on six articles of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Article 1 creates an obligation to respect human rights;

Article 2 guarantees the right to life;

Article 3 prohibits torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

Article 8 ensures respect for private and family life;

Article 10 protects freedom of expression


Article 14 prohibits discrimination in the securing of Convention rights and freedoms.

While Ankara is still refusing to comply with last year's decision of the court in the case of Greek-Cypriot Titina Loizidou, ordering compensation for the loss of her property in northern Cyprus after the 1974 Turkish invasion, the court decided to admit a similar case brought by Greek-Cypriot Michael Solomonides and 28 others on the same day that it admitted the Solomou case.

Solomou case admitted by Human Rights Court

PIO Friday, 9 July 1999

The European Court of Human Rights has declared as admissible the case of the family of Solomos Solomou, shot dead by Turks during a peaceful demonstration against the Turkish occupation of Cyprus held in Dherynia in August 1996, who filed a suit against Turkey in Strasbourg in February.

The Court ruled that the application of the Solomou family was admissible after Turkey abstained from submitting any observations on its admissibility and a hearing on its merits will follow.

The Court is initially asking Turkey to justify Solomou's death in view of its claims that he was attempting to take down the Turkish flag.

The Court agrees with the view of the Cypriot lawyers that the Turkish flag was flying illegally on Cypriot territory.

The family of Tassos Isaac, who was clubbed to death in the buffer zone during the Dherynia events, has also filed an application to the European Court of Human Rights.