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MEPs Call for Sarris' Release from N. Cyprus Jail

sarris arrestMEPs Eleni Theocharous and Ioannis Kasoulides have called for the release of Dr. Michael Sarris and two other men under arrest in north Cyprus, saying their detention on allegations of homosexual intercourse are against their human rights.

"The northern part of Cyprus is the last territory in Europe where homosexuality is illegal. This is in breach of the binding European Convention on Human Rights, which applies to the territory," says a statement from the MEPs.

Charging them is illegal under human rights law, denies their most basic rights, and is wholly unnecessary as no harm was done, says Theocharous' statement.

"Consenting adults have the right to engage in sexual intercourse with people of the same sex, these men must be freed now!” said Michael Cashman MEP, co-president of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights in the European Parliament.

Sarris, 65, a 17-year-old Turkish settler and a 29-year-old Turkish-Cypriot man were all taken into custody in Turkish-held north Nicosia on October 14th. The court heard that Sarris did not have sexual contact with the 17-year-old, who was reportedly forced into accusing the former minister of 'unnatural' sexual acts. The age of consent in Cyprus is 17, but in the north, homosexual sex is illegal.

Another two teenagers, aged 14 and 16 have also been arrested in connection with the case, very much in contrast to normal practice, when allegedly abused minors are afforded discretion and privacy.

All five have been detained for another two days. The Republic of Cyprus police force has no connection with the detention, which was carried out in the Turkish-held north of the island at a house in old Nicosia.

The former minister is a respected and well-liked economics and public policy expert who serves on a number of boards and was formerly a Central Bank governor. His detention has shocked the Greek-Cypriot community, which holds Sarris in high regard, and on whose behalf he was negotiating in ongoing reunification talks.

Legally, the arrest is on highly questionable grounds since the Turkish-Cypriot police force and the 'TRNC' are not officially recognised outside Turkish-occupied north Cyprus.

Since Sarris' detention, the government has been liaising with the UN to make sure he is being held in good conditions and that he is released as soon as possible, said government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou. Meanwhile, Sarris' lawyer Constantis Candounas has crossed the Green Line to take up the case but has not yet made any statements.

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