A lawyer, acting on behalf of former EOKA veterans in a claim for personal injuries and human rights abuses suffered whilst in custody of the British colonial administration in the latter half of the 1950s, will be pressing their case.
The lawyer, representing the veterans will be visiting Cyprus again in early September in order to build the case against the UK Government’s Foreign Office.
KJ Conroy & Co Solicitors have been representing the EOKA veterans since June 2011 and have been visiting Cyprus on a regular basis to interview potential claimants and take witness statements.
Kevin Conroy of the Birmingham-based law firm has already taken the first step in the British legal process towards pursuing compensation for his clients. Eight letters of claim on behalf of two women and six men members of the EOKA have been sent to the Foreign Office, who are represented by the Treasury solicitor. The letters set out the details of the allegations and provide the accused with the opportunity to investigate them over the course of six months.
A precedent was set in the cases brought forward by three Kenyans, members of the Mau-Mau tribe that also accused the colonial power of torture. However, in the end the British government settled for a hefty compensation, while Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his “sincere regret” for the torture and ill-treatment Kenyans suffered under the colonial administration.
Conroy commented that the government’s approach in the Cypriot case was “ill-advised”, as the Mau-Mau case clearly sets a precedent. Hague was quick to add to his apology to the Kenyans that since the British government had settled out of court – offering £19.9m to 5,228 Kenyan prison camp survivors – the courts had made no finding of liability against the government.
“The precedent is clear. I believe that my Cypriot clients have very strong legal arguments,” said the British solicitor, adding that he considers a repeat of the Mau-Mau case scenario very plausible.
Victims and lawyers said that fresh evidence of abuse is emerging from now declassified British government files as well as a Red Cross investigation into abuse allegations in 1957. Cyprus gained independence in 1960 when Archbishop Makarios was elected president.
A French lawyer working on the case has come up with detailed eye-witness accounts by the organisation’s inspectors of the time, supporting the EOKA fighters’ allegations.