WASHINGTON, DC—On December 4, 2003, AHI general counsel Gene Rossides sent a letter to Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell rejecting the State Department’s position that the U.S. Government, in effect, is bound by a Greek and Turkish Cypriot agreement that they would treat the missing as a humanitarian issue and not seek criminal prosecutions on either side. The Government’s position was set forth in Ambassador and Special Cyprus Coordinator Thomas G. Weston’s September 10, 2003 reply to Mr. Rossides’ July 17, 2003 letter to Secretary Powell requesting an investigation to determine responsibility of Turkish Cypriot Leader Rauf Denktash and the 1974 Turkish commander of Turkey’s invasion forces for the murder of five Americans during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
In his response, Ambassador Weston referred to the Committee on Missing Persons, established in 1981 under UN auspices and said that at that time “the two sides…agreed that the issue would be treated as a purely humanitarian one and that no attempts would be made to pursue criminal prosecutions on either side. Our policy is to support a resolution of this issue through this established UN mechanism.”
In his December 4, 2003 letter, Mr. Rossides rejected the State Department’s position and called on Secretary Powell to reverse it. Mr. Rossides stated:
“We find it unacceptable and astonishing that the cold-blooded killing of five Americans while they were illegally held captive is subject to an agreement the U.S. is not a party to and seek from you a reversal of this position.”
Mr. Rossides also raised the issue of the remains of the four Americans that have not been positively identified. He stated: “I understand that from the movement back and forth across the Green Line, that four graves have been identified as belonging to the other four Americans. We urge further inquiry to determine the validity of this information including exhuming the graves.”