Cypriot Lawyer Demands Independent Probe into Guardsman's 2005 Death

A Cypriot judge rules that national guardsman Thanasis Nicolaou's 2005 death was a murder by strangulation, not a suicide. The ruling sparks calls for an independent investigation into alleged government cover-up and wrongdoing.

Bijay Laxmi
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Cypriot Lawyer Demands Independent Probe into Guardsman's 2005 Death

Cypriot Lawyer Demands Independent Probe into Guardsman's 2005 Death

Cypriot lawyer Leto Cariolou is calling for an independent investigation into the 2005 death of national guardsman Thanasis Nicolaou, alleging a "cover-up" and "unethical" involvement by the Attorney General's office. The demand comes after a judge recently ruled that Nicolaou's death was a murder by strangulation, not a suicide as initially determined.

Why this matters: This case highlights the need for accountability and transparency in government investigations, particularly when it comes to high-profile cases involving potential wrongdoing by officials. The outcome of this investigation could have far-reaching implications for the Cypriot justice system and the public's trust in its institutions.

Nicolaou, a 26-year-old Greek Cypriot Australian, was found dead under a bridge in the village of Alasa, near Limassol, Cyprus, on September 29, 2005. Despite his mother Andriana Nicolaou's insistence that he was murdered, authorities initially ruled the death a suicide. However, after a 19-year campaign by the family, coroner Doria Varoshiotos concluded on Friday that Thanasis was strangled to death, based on evidence from a private forensic examiner.

The case has been marred by tensions and objections between the two sides. The Cypriot government pathologist, Panikos Stavrianou, initially ruled the death a suicide. However, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) convicted Cyprus for mishandling the case, prompting a new investigation. "It's not justice, it's moral satisfaction," Andriana Nicolaou said in court. "Justice is for those who killed my child and those who covered it up for so many years to be punished."

Thanasis Nicolaou was serving in the Cypriot army at the time of his death and had experienced "nightmarish moments" including bullying and abuse, according to his mother. The new investigation, launched in October 2021 by two independent criminal investigators appointed by the Attorney General, revealed critical evidence from the excavation of Thanasis's remains. A broken hyoid bone indicated strangulation, and sand was found in his mouth despite no sand being present under the bridge where his body was discovered.

Lawyer Leto Cariolou and political parties like the Greens and Akel are now demanding a truly independent investigation, accusing the Attorney General's office of covering up the crime and unethically manipulating the case. They are calling for accountability for those who willfully concealed the truth behind Nicolaou's murder. "The fact that the Attorney General and his assistant have included the Thanasis Nicolaou case in the indictment against Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides and are denouncing the Auditor general's support group for supporting the demand for justice and an investigation into Thanasis' murder is no coincidence," the Green Party stated.

The Nicolaou family's nearly two-decade struggle to uncover the truth has been vindicated by the judge's ruling, but they say their fight for justice continues. Andriana Nicolaou thanked God for giving her the strength through her illness to persist in seeking the truth. "For two decades we fought to prove true that everyone did everything to cover up the truth," she said. As the Attorney General's office faces mounting criticism and calls for an independent investigation, the case that has haunted Cyprus for 19 years may finally see a just resolution.

Key Takeaways

  • Thanasis Nicolaou's 2005 death ruled a murder by strangulation, not suicide.
  • Family's 19-year campaign led to new investigation and coroner's conclusion.
  • Allegations of cover-up and unethical involvement by Attorney General's office.
  • Independent investigation demanded to uncover truth and hold officials accountable.
  • Case has far-reaching implications for Cypriot justice system and public trust.