British soldiers allegedly tortured Greek Cypriots by stubbing cigarettes out on their rectums, simulating executions and using a metal contraption that caused eyes to bleed, High Court papers have revealed. The British Government is fighting a claim in the High Court from 34 elderly Greek Cypriots, who allege they were tortured by British soldiers and security services when they were youngsters during the Cyprus Emergency between 1955 to 1959.
The Government paid out nearly £20 million in costs and compensation to more than 5,000 victims of colonial rule in Kenya during the Mau Mau revolt in the 1950s and 1960s. The Cypriot claimants, all in their 80s, want the Government to follow the Kenyan example and settle out of court.
One of the claimants was beaten so severely by British soldiers that he lost a kidney. The family of another claimant, Christos Constantinou, want compensation so that now, more than sixty years later, he can enjoy a better quality of life.
In a statement, his children Paul Constantinou and Androulla Yianni said: ‘Our father was tortured by two British Army captains, who were court-marshalled and sacked for their behaviour.
‘He is no longer well enough to attend court himself, but remembers vividly the awful things that happened to him.’
Earlier this year the British Government failed in a bid to block the compensation claims on the basis the alleged crimes should have been tried in a Cypriot court. Kevin Conroy, solicitor for the claimants, said: ‘The claimants have been fighting for recognition of the torture and human rights abuses committed against them nearly 60 years ago. ‘These are people who were juveniles at the time, but are now in their eighties. Many of them still suffer daily from the physical and psychological injuries inflicted on them at the time.
‘Three of the claimants have died in the process of bringing this case to the stage it is at now, while others are no longer fit to bring a claim themselves.’ He added: ‘We will now press to bring this matter to a full trial to ensure that justice is done for our clients.’ Bambos Charalambous, Labour MP for Enfield Southgate, has written to the Ministry of Defence concerning his constituent Mr Constantinou’s case.
The MP demanded the MoD take into account Mr Constantinou’s growing frailty, saying it is important to settle the case sooner rather than later. Metro.co.uk can today reveal what the Minister for Armed Services Mark Lancaster MP said in his response. The minister wrote: ‘The Government considers torture to be an abhorrent violation of human rights and human dignity and consistently and unreservedly condemns this practice.
‘There is an absolute prohibition on torture in international law and it cannot be justified in any circumstance whatsoever, including for example war and public emergency.’ The minister said despite being aware of the claims he is unable to discuss individual cases as ‘litigation is ongoing’. The next High Court hearing concerning the alleged victims is in October.
Source: Adam Smith/metro