Cypriots ‘vindicated’ after UK settlement of torture claims

Cypriots ‘vindicated’ after UK settlement of torture claims
British soldiers search a Greek Orthodox priest in Cyprus in 1955. (Getty Images)
Updated 24 January 2019

Cypriots ‘vindicated’ after UK settlement of torture claims

Cypriots ‘vindicated’ after UK settlement of torture claims
  • Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan said Britain regrets the violence and loss of life that preceded Cypriot independence
  • £1 million settlement ends a nearly seven-year dispute in Cypriot and British courts launched by the Cypriots after Kenyans successfully took similar legal action of their own

NICOSIA, Cyprus: About three dozen Cypriots who alleged they were tortured while in custody during fighting against British colonial rule more than 60 years ago said Thursday that they feel vindicated after the UK government agreed to pay them £1 million ($1.3 million).
Britain’s Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan announced late Wednesday that the settlement isn’t an “admission of liability” or a “precedent” for any future claims against the UK. He said Britain regrets the violence and loss of life that preceded Cypriot independence.
“We must not forget the past and indeed we must learn from it,” Duncan said in a statement. “But it is most important to look to the future.”
He said the UK reaffirms its commitment to strengthen its already close ties with Cyprus “built on shared values of mutual respect and full equality.”
Thassos Sophocleous, who heads an association of former fighters who waged a four-year armed campaign just prior to Cyprus’ 1960 independence, said that the 33 Cypriots see the out-of-court settlement as the British government’s acknowledgement that they were tortured while in the hands of British authorities.
Sophocleous, 85, claims the beatings he received for 17 straight days while in British custody damaged his knees and fractured vertebrae.
The settlement ends a nearly seven-year dispute in Cypriot and British courts launched by the Cypriots after Kenyans successfully took similar legal action of their own.
One of the Cypriots’ lawyers, Christos Clerides, told The Associated Press that the settlement is an “indirect admission” by the UK government that unlawful acts were committed against Cypriots during the EOKA guerrilla campaign whose aim was union with Greece.
Clerides said that the former fighters will also receive around 3 million pounds ($3.9 million) to cover legal costs. He said the UK government likely moved to settle the case because it wanted to avoid having details of the alleged torture made public during a trial that was scheduled to start later this year.
The Cyprus government, meanwhile, hailed the settlement as a “courageous act” by Britain, adding that the “passions of the past” should be consigned to history as both countries aim to improve already “excellent relations.”
Britain still retains two military bases on Cyprus. Last year, more than 1.3 million Britons spent their holidays on the east Mediterranean island nation.


Moscow starts mass COVID-19 vaccination with its Sputnik V shot

Updated 26 min 41 sec ago

Moscow starts mass COVID-19 vaccination with its Sputnik V shot

Moscow starts mass COVID-19 vaccination with its Sputnik V shot
  • The task force said the Russian-made vaccine would first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers
  • Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, registered 7,993 new cases overnight

MOSCOW: Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot via 70 clinics on Saturday, marking Russia’s first mass vaccination against the disease, the city’s coronavirus task force said.
The task force said the Russian-made vaccine would first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers because they ran the highest risk of exposure to the disease.
“You are working at an educational institution and have top-priority for the COVID-19 vaccine, free of charge,” read a phone text message received by one Muscovite, an elementary school teacher, early on Saturday and seen by Reuters.
Moscow, the epicenter of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, registered 7,993 new cases overnight, up from 6,868 a day before and well above the daily tallies of around 700 seen in early September.
“Over the first five hours, 5,000 people signed up for the jab — teachers, doctors, social workers, those who are today risking their health and lives the most,” Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his personal website on Friday.
The age for those receiving shots is capped at 60. People with certain underlying health conditions, pregnant women and those who have had a respiratory illness for the past two weeks are barred from vaccination.
Russia has developed two COVID-19 vaccines, Sputnik V which is backed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund and another developed by Siberia’s Vector Institute, with final trials for the both yet to be completed.
Scientists have raised concerns about the speed at which Russia has worked, giving the regulatory go-ahead for its vaccines and launching mass vaccinations before full trials to test its safety and efficacy had been completed.
The Sputnik V vaccine is administered in two injections, with the second dose is expected to be given 21 days after the first.
Moscow closed down all public places including parks and cafes, with exception for delivery, in late March, with police patrolling the streets looking for whose violating the rules. Restrictions were eased from mid-June, however.
Russia as a whole reported 28,782 new infections on Saturday, its highest daily tally, pushing the national total to 2,431,731, the fourth-highest in the world.
In October, certain restrictions such as remote learning for some secondary school children and a 30% limit on the number of workers allowed in offices were introduced again.