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Lack of DNA samples for remains believed to belong to 50 missing persons

September 20, 2018 at 4:55pm

The identification process of remains, believed to belong to some 50 missing persons from Cyprus, is facing difficulties as there are no matching DNA samples from close relatives to compare them with.

Collecting DNA samples from deceased relatives might solve the problem, however the Cabinet has not authorized the necessary budget yet.

As CNA has learnt, most of the remains belong probably to Greek-Cypriot missing persons located in various areas in the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. Some of these cases, however, may not fall within the mandate of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP).

For the time being, remains are kept at the CMP anthropological laboratory, with some cases dating back to 2005.

Last year, the CMP proceeded to review all cases that could not be identified and even asked for samples from not so close relatives of missing persons, in a bid to overcome the deadlock.

Moreover, the CMP contacted specific families, asking them for permission to get genetic samples from deceased relatives, in order to complete the identification process. This would require exhuming deceased relatives, in order to take DNA sample.

Once the budget is approved by the Cabinet, samples will be taken from cemeteries throughout Cyprus. CMP estimates that the process will take about two months to complete, before sending samples to the genetics laboratory.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.

The CMP is a tripartite intercommunal investigatory committee comprising a representative of the Greek Cypriot community, a representative of the Turkish Cypriot community, and a Third Member nominated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and appointed by the UN Secretary General.