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Cross-border mafia behind property sales in north

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The mafia on both sides of the divide in Cyprus seem to be cooperating to sell off Greek Cypriot properties in the Turkish occupied north to foreigners, according to a prominent Turkish Cypriot political figure.

People’s Party leader, and former negotiator for the solution of the Cyprus problem, Kudret Ozersay’s comments come as the Republic of Cyprus awaits for the extradition from Rome of a Turkish Cypriot lawyer charged with embezzlement of Greek Cypriot properties.

Akan Kursat, apprehended in Italy based on an old outstanding warrant for property fraud in the north, now faces charges carrying a potential prison sentence of up to seven years.

The charges include conspiracy to commit a crime, illegal possession or use of land belonging to others, and obtaining goods through false representations, as detailed in a police case file initiated in 2005.

In his interview with Politis daily, Ozersay, addressing the surge in property sales to foreigners in the north, suggested that a legal loophole allows Turkish Cypriot lawyers to act as intermediaries, facilitating unrestricted property acquisitions by foreign individuals.

He highlighted a specific legal measure for Turkish Cypriots, who receive Greek Cypriot land as compensation for losses incurred in the state-controlled areas after the Turkish invasion and division in 1974.

Ozersay also expressed concern about practices in state-controlled areas, where Turkish Cypriots are denied access to their properties due to the custodianship law enacted by the Republic after 1974.

He emphasised the challenges faced by his family in accessing their property in the south.

“My family has property in the south, but cannot enjoy it because of the custodianship law on Turkish Cypriot properties, which says until the solution of the Cyprus problem it is basically impossible for me to get that land, unless I move to the south,” he said.

Unfair allocation

Ozersay also questioned the allocation of Turkish Cypriot properties managed by the Turkish Cypriot Property Management Authority in the south, noting instances where they were given to Greek Cypriot non-refugees, sublet, or utilised by the state for infrastructure development.

Addressing potential solutions, Ozersay pointed to the existence of the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) in the north handing out compensations to Greek Cypriots for the loss of their properties.

As he argued, despite its challenges, it is recognised by the European Court of Human Rights as an effective domestic remedy.

Meanwhile, the Cyprus Bar Association has initiated investigations into certain members and a company allegedly involved in property transactions in the north, including those connected to Akan Kursat.

Kursat, previously known for representing British drug baron Gary Robb, is currently in custody in Italy, with local courts set to decide on his potential extradition to Cypriot authorities.

Robb, convicted in the Cyprus Republic for selling Greek Cypriot land to British buyers in an uncompleted development, had previously faced legal consequences for his actions.