A special ceremony was held in Nicosia on Tuesday for the return of the remains of five Greek nationals who died aboard the Phaethon at Tyllirias in August 1964 when it was bombed by Turkey.
Present to collect the remains was Greece’s Alternate Minister of Defence, Dimitris Vitsas.
The men were honoured in a speech by Cyprus’ Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, Photis Photiou who noted their bravery and said they had “offered their lives at the altar of Cypriot freedom”.
The five men were identified as Lieutenant Panagiotis Chrysoulis from Athens, Plutarch Spyridon Agathos from Corfu, Plutarch Nicholas Panagos from Arcadia, Antipaspostor Panagiotis Theodoratos from Kefallinia, and Piertis Nikolaos Kappadoukas from Skopelos.
Meanwhile, Cyprus is also due to hand over the remains of another two Greeks, one of whom also died at Tyllirias in 1964, Reservist Vasilios Koukousoulis, and Colonel Athanasios Fotopoulos who was killed in the battle for the airport in Nicosia in July 1974.
“Fifty-four years after the Turkish attacks on Tyllirias and 44 years since Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus … we do this as the Cypriot state with a great apology for the delay due to mistakes or omissions of the past, as well as to reasons that were judged necessary in our course over time,” Mr Photiou said, and went on to thank those involved in the exhumation and identification processes of the remains of the Phaethon crew.
Mr Vitsas also gave a speech to thank the Cypriot government for the return of the remains, and to honour the soldiers who served “a higher purpose without a second thought”.
A second ceremony took place for the transportation of the remains from the old Larnaca airport on a Greek Air Force C-27. Present were National Guards, Greek officers, clergy, officials and relatives of the deceased soldiers.