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Cancer victims deserve justice

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Cancer patients who sued and won their initial case against a sole shoemaker for using toxic materials deemed as cancerous saw their appeal for higher damages overturned by the Supreme Court this week.

The state’s objection was upheld because insufficient scientific proof links the factory’s emissions to cancer deaths.

Residents of the Latsia neighbourhood, some of whom lived within 500 metres of the factory, feel a great injustice, despite being vindicated at the Nicosia District Court earlier this year.

They feel abandoned by the state, and there has been no moral responsibility for allowing the factory to operate for four decades.

A study by leading epidemiologists found that a specific cancer, which should have appeared at a rate of one victim per 100,000 population, killed eight among 2,000 residents in this area.

Furthermore, the locals had been complaining about the odour and toxic fume emissions from the start of the factory’s operations.

It took them 20 years to be heard and two more decades to get the plant shut down.

However, the damage was done, and despite government officials and politicians of all ideological backgrounds promoting themselves as defenders of people with cancer, they neglected this community.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that what the factory produced was toxic.

And that families lost loved ones in what is described as too much of a coincidence.

That is why they sought greater damages from the former factory operator and the competent state services, not that the money would bring back family members who died a gruesome death.

The highest award was €200,000, paid to the family of a three-year-old girl who died of brain cancer.

The smallest compensation was €50,000.

It seems this is the cost of dying in Cyprus, at least caused by a third party.

The issue here is twofold – on the one hand, the state refusing to take responsibility and at least seeming to be on the side of the victims, while on the other, corrupt civil servants and those who often turn a blind eye to many injustices, continue to roam freely, unpunished for being accessories to death, if not murder.

Ethics have been thrown out the window. Rights are ignored.

The few continue to impose on the majority.

A clear message has been evidenced in recent years that in Cyprus, you can get away with murder, especially if the victim is an innocent three-year-old angel or the defenceless wife of a pensioner whose suffering will continue until they die.

In all the debates with politicians aiming to become president of this country next February, the declaration and intent to fight crime and corruption are thrown around like sweets at a children’s party.

This is an insult, especially from some candidates whose names are linked to a shopping list of corruption and wrongdoing.

Which, of course, has not been scientifically proven!