Excavations for Noratlas to be concluded in the next few days

Excavations for Noratlas to be concluded in the next few days

Εxcavations to locate a Greek military aircraft which was shot down by friendly fire in the summer of 1974 and the remains of the soldiers on board will be concluded in the next few days, Presidential Commissioner Fotis Fotiou has told CNA.

In statements on Monday to CNA, Fotiou said that anthropological tests and the identification of the remains discovered have already begun.

The Noratlas Greek military aircraft was shot down by friendly fire on July 22, 1974 and, until recently, was buried under a mound at the memorial site called Tymvos Makedonitissas in Nicosia.

“We are proceeding with the conclusion of the excavation, which is expected to finish in the next few days”, Fotiou said, adding that scientific examinations, such as identifications of the remains, have already begun.

The aircraft was part of a secret mission from Greece to send reinforcements to the Greek Cypriot National Guard fighting the advancing Turkish troops, which invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974. The plane was shot down on July 22 by friendly fire as Greek Cypriot soldiers mistook it for a hostile aircraft. All but one of its airmen were killed. Thirty-two men were on board the Greek Noratlas and have been since missing since then.

The Council of Ministers decided in February 2014 to proceed with the excavations for Noratlas, following a case against the Republic of Cyprus brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2007 by the families of two Greek military officers who perished in Noratlas. The Court unanimously declared the application by the families of the dead airmen inadmissible.

The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state since 2004, has been occupied by Turkish troops since the summer of 1974. Turkey, which aspires to become a full EU member state occupies 37% of Cyprus` territory. UN-led talks aiming to reunify the island are underway.