Turkish Cypriot awarded €345,000 for loss of property

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Opposition parties criticised Legal Services for taking a decade to settle a property claim from a Turkish Cypriot, costing the state hundreds of thousands for the delay.

A Turkish Cypriot with American citizenship was awarded €345,000 in compensation in June 2022 for losing access to his property while regaining ownership from the Interior Ministry.

Orhan Huseyin Dervish had initially filed a lawsuit against the Republic of Cyprus in 2013 at the Limassol District Court against the attorney general and the interior minister.

The Limassol property belonged to his father and was transferred to him in 1973, but Dervish only claimed the property 10 years ago.

Dervish argued that his property had been wrongly handed over to the Republic’s Guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties post-1974, as he had left Cyprus before the island became independent.

The court ordered that Dervish be paid €310,000 plus legal interest at two per cent per annum from June 22, 2022, until payment, and legal costs totalling €20,110.

The property will now be returned to Dervish, with the €345,000 compensation package approved by the Cabinet last month.

It must be ratified in parliament, requiring a supplementary state budget.

Chair of the House Refugee Committee and AKEL MP Nicos Kettiros questioned why it took Legal Services so long to settle the case, as it was clear the property should have been returned to the owner.

Kettiros argued that had the Attorney General acted sooner, Cypriot taxpayers would have been spared from the high compensation cost.

“The tax-paying citizen will be asked to pay a large amount because some people have been holding this hot potato for 10 years and waiting to pass it on to the next person”.

He also said the committee had requested clarifications from the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties under the Interior Ministry.

Kettiros requested that authorities inform the House of how many similar cases are pending.

Dervish is not the first Turkish Cypriot who never became a citizen to be awarded compensation for the loss of property in the Republic.

In 2016, the Larnaca District Court ruled the ‘Mackenzie Estate’ had been built illegally and that its legal owner, Fikret Ali Riza, be returned and awarded damages.

Information given to the Financial Mirror suggests 100 similar requests pending before the guardian of Turkish Cypriot properties.