Anger over murdered soldier’s dropped prosecution

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Growing discontent over how authorities handled the investigations into the death of conscript Thanasis Nicolaou has triggered public anger as social media support groups organised a protest on 12 July outside the Presidential Palace.

The development comes after Attorney General closed the investigation of his death in 2005 without prosecution, despite evidence showing he was murdered.

A growing number of social media groups are being set up to support Thanasis’ family, who has been struggling for the past 18 years to prove that their son was murdered and did not commit suicide, as the authorities claimed in 2005 when he was found dead under a bridge.

One social media post said: “The case of Thanasis Nicolaou is not just another unsolved murder.

“It is a continuing coverup crime, undermining justice for the benefit of the underworld.

“And at the same time, a message to all criminals that the field is open as long as they have political backing.

“The decision not to prosecute sends out the message that the law has no value in Cyprus, resulting in lawlessness and criminal circles prevailing in Cyprus’ political life.

“The distinction between criminal and political crime is now blurred, and all our safety is uncertain”.

“We call upon every citizen to join the demonstration to demand a better Cyprus, where laws are applicable, and they have access to justice.

“See you all at the Presidential Palace to demand justice for Thanasis’ family”.

President Nikos Christodoulides had contacted Thanasis’ mother, telling her the government would grant the family an amount as a courtesy financial aid to cover losses from long legal battles.

Opposition party AKEL said in a statement that “society as a whole stands by Thanasis’ family and demands justice”.

“The fact that no prosecutions will be carried out increases public disappointment and mistrust of society in our country’s functioning of the rule of law.

“It is the duty of the Cypriot state to exhaust all means to bring the whole truth to light and bring the guilty and accomplices, whoever they are, to justice”.

The family will file a private criminal case after the Attorney General closed the investigation of his death.

Speaking to Sigma TV on Wednesday, lawyer Christos Triantafyllides said the family intends to open legal proceedings “against those tasked with investigating the guardsman’s death, three police officers serving at Limassol police headquarters at the time of his death.

“The family will also be filing a private criminal prosecution case against the state medical examiner handling the case,” said Triantafyllides.

Drug ring

The case of Thanasis Nicolaou’s death was reopened 16 years later after his mother, Andriana Nicolaou, had relentlessly insisted that her son had not committed suicide but was murdered after stumbling on a drug ring in his army camp.

She took to social media to slam the Attorney General, insisting the whole case smelt of a coverup.

She wrote that for 18 years, she had been up against officials who had been covering up the murder of her son “to protect the drug dealers that my unfortunate child happened to see trafficking drugs in the army camp.

“They closed his mouth, so he did not speak, only because he refused to join them.”

“That is why his army commander had come to visit us the next day of his death, asking us if he had told us anything the last night he had been home.

“He wanted to know if our son had the opportunity to tell us what happened! Army officers killed my child, and you (state officials) killed his family!” wrote Andriana.

The soldier’s body was found under a bridge in Alassa, Limassol, in September 2005, about 12 kilometres from his home and barracks.

At the time, authorities were convinced that Nicolaou had committed suicide, but police had not questioned all his fellow army comrades, despite the victim reporting being bullied.

In February 2021, the ECHR ruled that authorities had botched the investigation into his death.