The TRNC Supreme Court has rejected, by a majority, the appeal filed by Greek Cypriots against the decision by Famagusta District Court, which argued that the properties in Famagusta belonged to Evkaf religious foundation.
In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the appeal of the Greek Cypriots should have been filed six months after the decision by Famagusta District Court, but it was submitted after this time period had passed and that is why it was rejected.
Moreover, the Supreme Court suggested to the Immovable Properties Commission (IPC), that it should take as its basis, the title deeds’ records of 1974 when it makes a decision regarding compensation or return of property. It also suggests that the IPC did not have the power to examine whether any irregularity had taken place before 1974. The minority of the court, however, decided that whether irregularities prior to 1974 had taken place, should be examined. The decision of the majority was read by Narin Ferdi Sefik, chairperson of the Supreme Court. The decision by the minority was read by Judge Gulden Ciftcioglu.
Lawyer for the plaintiffs Murat Hakki, told Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Havadis’ that the process, from now, on would be related to how the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) would interpret and view this decision, adding that “if the decision of the majority is taken as a basis and is implemented by the IPC, it could be said that the way will open for the Commission to become an effective local remedy for Varosha/Marash”.
Engin Ulunay, lawyer for the Evkaf told the paper that the decision by the majority of the Supreme Court was not binding, “because the decisions which bind the Commission are the decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court. This statement has the character of a conclusion”, he argued.
Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris Postasi’ reports that the court’s decision had satisfied both the Evkaf and the Greek Cypriot plaintiff. Pointing out that the court, convened under the presidency of Narin Sefik, the paper writes that the court had rejected unanimously the appeal against the decision taken by Famagusta district court in 2005, which ruled that Varosha was Evkaf property. “However, some issues pointed out by the court caused debates”, notes the paper.
Stelios Ioannou, owner of Argo Hotel in Varosha, had filed an application in 2017 against the above- mentioned decision by Famagusta district court, notes the paper, adding that Ioannou’s application was rejected in 2018. He then filed an appeal in the same year. This appeal was rejected yesterday.
According to the paper, while some said that the decision taken yesterday by the court was against the Evakaf, as it suggested that the IPC should take as basis the title deeds of 1974 when it decides, Evkaf’s director Dr. Ibrahim Benter said that they welcomed the decision. He said the following:
“As it is recalled, the wish of the Greek Cypriots was to annul the declaratory judgement of 2005. The court did not annul it. This is the first issue. The second issue is the opening of the way for the people, that is, the Greek Cypriots, to apply to the Immovable Property Commission. When they apply, the Commission will take into consideration the title deeds of 1974. That is, as [there are] two decisions, it is a little bit of a contradictory situation. […] We want the Immovable Property Commission to work. Anyway, there is a system here for the Greek Cypriots to pursue their rights. We want this to work. […] Let them come and pursue their rights and we will also go and say what we have to say, because we are also a party”. In other words, let the court decide who is right.
Havadis, Kibris Postasi