The South Nicosia District Court sentenced a 20-year-old man this week to four months in prison suspended for three-years and ordered to pay a €1,000 fine after admitted that he had taken part in the 2015 student attack against vehicles belonging to Turkish Cypriots.
Eleven more defendants who pleaded not guilty will be referred to trial.
According to the Greek Cypriot daily ‘Politis’, the 20-year-old was found guilty of causing actual bodily harm, property damage, unrest and cultivating a spirit of intolerance.
The court said that such actions cannot be justified on the pretext of patriotism, or the struggle against the Turkish occupation. On the contrary, it said, they undermine the constitutional structure of the state.
Patriotism, the court said, is exhibited by a productive contribution to social structures and not through acts of violence and intolerance. The court said that it took into consideration that the defendant was a minor at the time, his clean criminal record, that he has expressed remorse and that he agreed to testify as a prosecution witness.
On November 16, 2015, during a student protest against the anniversary of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in the north (UDI), students attacked three cars with Turkish Cypriot plates on three different occasions, which led to the injury of two Turkish Cypriots. The three cars were also damaged.
In the Turkish Cypriot press, ‘Kibris’ newspaper comments that the court verdict to punish the Greek Cypriot students is a very important development. The paper adds that the fact that the one of the Greek Cypriot attackers was given a jailed sentence is very important for the Turkish Cypriots and is also something being expected. “The fact that justice starts giving punishments for the attacks taking place in South Cyprus would not only be a deterrent against similar incidents but also is important for the development of trust between the two communities. We wish that all the attackers against the Turkish Cypriots would stand trial and would be punished appropriately”, the paper adds.
Additionally, columnist Resat Akar, in a commentary in Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Diyalog’ describes the decision of the Court as a very important development, he adds however, that it is remarkable that the sentence handed down to the student was suspended. Akar wonders what the meaning of the punishment is if it is not be implemented. “If the punishment given was to be implemented, we would take on board that the Greek Cypriots changed mentality. If we want a viable solution [to the Cyprus problem], there is no other remedy than preventing racist behaviour and implementing effective decisions. Changing the educational system which is based on hostility to the Turkish Cypriots would be the first step”, he concluded.
Cyprus Mail, Kibris, Diyalog