World Bulletin / News Desk
George Lillikas, a presidential candidate in the Greek Cypriot elections in February, called for the closure of the crossings between the island's Turkish and Greek sections after three policemen were detained on the Turkish side for illegally crossing into Turkish Cypriot territory.
The Greek Cypriot policemen were detained after they crossed into the Turkish side in pursuit of a suspect Coşkun Alaslan and tried to detain him in front of his house.
Greek Cypriot reports said the police pursued him on suspicions of smuggling, while his family denied the accusation. Other reports said that the police started to chase his vehicle after he entered a restricted military zone and ignored warnings to stop. Before capturing the 19-year-old Alaslan, the policemen drove through a Turkish Cypriot military no-entry zone. They twisted Alaslan's arm and pushed away family members who tried to help the distressed man as they were trying to handcuff him. The three policemen were detained by Turkish Cypriot security forces.
The incident on Sunday has created fresh tensions on the divided island, with Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias complaining to the UN while Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu defending his country's right to detain anyone violating military zones.
Lillikas, a former foreign minister and a major candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, said the crossings should be closed temporarily to “ensure the safety” of Greek Cypriot nationals, the Greek Cypriot state radio said.
The detained policemen face charges of violating a military zone, importing and carrying guns in violation of the laws of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) and aggravated assault.
“They violated a military zone, entered the Turkish region carrying guns and attempted to assault our people on our own land,” Eroğlu said of the detained policemen.
“This is a state governed by rule of law and it is a separate state, separate territory. Therefore, there can be nothing more natural than initiating legal action against anyone who enters our territory and violates a military zone, even if these people are policemen from the South [Greek Cyprus],” he said on Monday.
Christofias, on the other hand, protested the detention and said that the UN must intervene decisively and immediately to release the three policemen. “The UN should have intervened on the spot,” he said, calling the detention “unacceptable.”
Cyprus is divided into a Turkish north and Greek south since 1974, when Turkey sent troops to the island in response to a Greek-inspired coup to unite the island with Greece.
Turkish and Greek Cypriot authorities have opened several crossings to facilitate free movement between the two sides since 2004, something that has been hailed by the international community as an important step forward in building confidence between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Ekim 2012, 16:53