The remains of five Greek Cypriot soldiers who appear in an iconic 1974 photo surrendering to invading Turkish troops were found in an abandoned well in the Turkish Cypriot north, officials said Monday.
The soldiers' families and Greek Cypriot officials called the
photographs proof that they were murdered in the custody of Turkish
"It's a cold-blooded execution," Andreas Hadjikyriakos, a
brother of one of the soldiers told state TV. "I can never accept
The Turkish Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.
Turkey invaded 35 years ago and split Cyprus into an
internationally recognized Greek south and a breakaway Turkish
north in response to a coup by Athens-backed supporters of union
with Greece. Around 1,500 Greek Cypriots and 500 Turkish Cypriots
vanished during the invasion and in interethnic clashes in the
The photographs became a symbol of the decades-long bids by
relatives of the missing to trace the fates of their loved ones.
The remains of the soldiers and 14 other people were exhumed
from an abandoned well in late 2006 near the northern village of
Tziaos, Elias Georgiades, an official with the United Nations-led
Committee on Missing Persons, said. He said the soldiers' families
were informed Friday that the remains had been identified.
Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou urged Turkey to open
military archives to shed more light on the disappearances of Greek
Cypriot civilians and soldiers.
"And for them (the soldiers) to be discovered the way they
were, in a well, proves they were murdered," he added.
Greece's Foreign Ministry on Monday also said the latest
discovery "confirms ... crimes committed during the invasion."
Since starting exhumations three years ago, a U.N.-sponsored
program has unearthed 537 sets of remains from 269 burial sites on
both sides of the divide. Some 162 identified missing individuals,
119 Greek Cypriots and 44 Turkish Cypriots, have so far been
returned to their families.
Relatives of missing Greek Cypriots have said the program does
not go far enough and have a long-standing demand for a formal
investigation to account for the fates of the missing.