The UK Government has sent out letters to veteran soldiers that were stationed in Cyprus during the 1955-1959 liberation struggle asking them to recall any wrongdoing by their colleagues.
The letter, revealed by the Daily Express, comes as the British courts are dealing with the cases of more than 30 veteran EOKA fighters who are pursuing moral vindication and a compensation for the tortures they allege they sustained while in the custody of the British colonial forces.
A recipient of the letter, the 83-year old Sam Bedwell, has dismissed the enquiry as “bonkers”, adding that the fact that the UK Government is examining the allegations after so many years “beggars belief”.
The letters were also dismissed as “outrageous” by the Commons Defence Committee Julian Lewis.
However, solicitors acting for the Cypriot claimants have said in the past that there is irrefutable evidence of the horrible abuse their clients had to go through at the time.
A first win has been achieved for the claimants as a British judge dismissed the UK Government’s argument that Cypriot law applies in the case, which would mean that it could have been dismissed due to the statute of limitations.
The UK Government has appealed the ruling. However, the letters revealed by the Express show that London is worried that the claimants could end up being owed hefty compensations, as was the case with claims of torture by the Mau-Mau during the Kenyan revolt in the 1950s and ‘60s. The British government paid nearly £20m to more than 5,000 victims of torture and abuse.
A UK Government spokesman told the Express that the letters are calling for entirely confidential and voluntary participation by the Army veterans in order to better prepare the state’s legal defence.
They also revealed that due to the concerns raised over historic allegations, the Defence Secretary recently created a dedicated team to consider the important issue and advise on the way forward.
Source: Thanasis Gavos/balkaneu