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Media Watch 2005

14 January 2005
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Philippos Stylianou
Comment: The following article appeared in Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 14 January 2005.
Orams case gets to court. Illegal deeds produced in court
"If they fail to have the demolition order set aside, they face having the Cyprus court decision enforced against their UK property by the British High Court under an EU regulation."

ILLEGAL title deeds issued by the pseudostate were for the first time presented as evidence before a court of the Cyprus Republic during the hearing of the landmark case of Linda and David Orams, a middle-aged English couple, who are challenging a previous court order to demolish a house they built on Greek Cypriot refugee property in Kyrenia and to return the land to its rightful owner.

Linda Orams told the Nicosia District Court under oath that they had bought the land in good faith according to the ‘laws’ of the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which they recognised, along with Turkey.

If they fail to have the demolition order set aside, they face having the Cyprus court decision enforced against their UK property by the British High Court under an EU regulation.

The likelihood of such an outcome has already brought to a halt the frenzied sale of Greek Cypriot properties to British and other EU nationals in the occupied north of the island.

The court has set January 21 as the date for the final arguments of the two sides and ordered £1,000 bail for the defendant Linda Orams.

Yesterday’s hearing lasted one-and-a-half hours and was held with the help of two interpreters, one from Turkish into Greek for the the Orams' Turkish lawyer and one from English into Greek for Mrs Orams herself. Notwithstanding the fact that everybody in court spoke English, Judge Elena Efraim said the proceedings had to be conducted in the official languages of the Cyprus Republic, namely Greek and Turkish.

Claimed

Constantinos Kantounas, lawyer for the plaintiff Greek Cypriot owner Meletios Apostolides, cross-examined Orams on a sworn affidavit she had given to the court and asked her if she held any title deeds for the property she claimed to have bought in Lapithos, Kyrenia, in March 2002 from a Turkish Cypriot from Karavas by the name of Hasan Ertuglu.

She replied that all the title deeds and related documents were in the possession of her lawyer Gunesh Mendesh, whereupon Kantounas asked for them to be produced to the court. Then he asked Mrs Orams: "Who issued this thing?"

"The lawyer or the land registry," replied Orams.

"The land registry of which country?"

"Of the TRNC," the defendant said.

"Taking into consideration that this ‘state’ is not recognised by anyone, how can you say that Hasan Ertuglu is the registered owner?" Kantounas challenged Linda Orams.

Her reply was: "Turkey and I recognise the TRNC and Hasan had the appropriate ownership title."

Objected

The Greek Cypriot lawyer pressed on: "And because you and Turkey recognise it, does it mean that you can come and take somebody else’s property?"

"The person we bought the land from was a Turkish Cypriot..." The English woman said.

"So?" Asked the laywer.

"The land belonged to him according to the law," Orams persisted.

"I put to you," Kantounas stressed "that the specific property and all the other properties belonging to Greek Cypriots or foreigners since before 1974 continue to remain the property of these people and no ‘land registry,’ no Turkey and no TRNC can take them away from them or start selling them here and there."

At this point the Turkish Cypriot defence Attorney Gunesh Mendesh objected that this was a legal point for the Court. Kantounas argued that the line of questioning had a bearing on the reliability of the witness, but Judge Efraim accepted Mendesh’s objection.

Replying to other questions Orams later claimed that when they bought the property they did not know it belonged to a Greek Cypriot.

"We bought it in good faith from Hasan Ertuglu, we obtained a building licence and also paid for the taxes," she said.

Asked to explain allegations in her affidavit that the legitimate owner of the property Meletios Apostolides had benefited from the situation, Linda Orams said: "I and my husband understood that because Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots couldn’t get along together, the country was divided and all Greek Cypriots in the north moved to the south and all Turkish Cypriots in the south moved to the north. People of both nationalities had to leave their land. I don’t know what happened in the south after this, but I know that the Turkish Cypriots in the north were awarded points representing the size and value of the land they left behind.

Equal value

"The Apostolides family must have been given land of equal value in the south; and this is the case for all, not just the two families."

Kantounas then informed her that Apostolides never got any land to make up for the one he had lost but he had worked hard to build a new house for his refugee family.

The Cyprus Weekly approached Linda Orams after the hearing for statements but she declined, referring us to her lawyer. Asked without a tape recorder if they had any regrets now that they knew the property belonged to Greek Cypriots refugees, she pondered for a while and then said: "I’ll speak to you when this is over."

During her cross-examination, Orams also tried to raise doubts about the date and circumstances under which she was served the first subpoena to appear before the Nicosia District Court last October.

She also claimed that she and her husband did not draw and financial benefit from the house in Lapithos and said that they will continue to live there.

Linda Orams apologised to the court for failing to appear before it on December 20, 2004 and the plaintiff’s lawyer withdrew an application for an arrest warrant against her."