Turkish settler Kenan Akin is wanted by Cypriot police and Interpol for the murder of Solomou, 26, during the 1996 anti-occupation demonstrations. In an article published by Athens newspaper, Proto Thema, on Sunday, Akin said he shot Solomou and that he would shoot him again. The unrepentant fugitive said he was considered a national hero in the north for his actions. Despite his open confession, Akin insisted that his bullet was not the one that killed Solomou.
Akin has returned to the spotlight after years living unhindered in the north and Turkey, as a result of his decision to run in the ‘parliamentary’ elections in the north on April 19. Akin, who served as ‘agriculture minister’ under Rauf Denktash, will be seeking political gains from his notorious reputation. He will be running with the Freedom and Reform party, headed by ‘foreign minister’ Tulgay Avci and a partner of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat’s CTP (Republican Turkish Party).
Akin said he had no intentions of leaving the north as he did not want to get arrested.
However, if elected, he’s prepared to help the government-controlled areas by bringing water from Turkey to solve drought problem, he told the Athens newspaper.
The latest crude confession drew widespread criticism from the Greek Cypriot political leadership yesterday.
Asked to comment, President Demetris Christofias was clear in his response: “Because he dared to do it once, and is a man without emotions, driven by feelings of barbarity, why wouldn’t he say he’ll do it a second time.
“You understand that these statements only inflame everybody’s emotions – not just us Cypriots. It’s absolutely reprehensible”
DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades was equally frank, saying it was unacceptable, inconceivable, and particularly reproachable for all those who want peaceful coexistence with the Greek Cypriots to tolerate such people living among them.
AKEL, DIKO, EDEK, EVROKO and the Greens all condemned Akin’s statements, calling for justice to be served.
“I think his statements confirm the quality of the man. Mr Akin is a murderer and as such he should be prosecuted,” said AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou.
Perhaps the man who’s opinion matters the most is his father, Spyros Solomou, who was quoted saying Akin’s statement acted as a provocation and a warning.
“It’s like he’s telling us, don’t seek justice, don’t seek a return, don’t seek a solution.”
The father accused Talat and Turkey of protecting Akin, noting that video evidence made his guilt irrefutable.
“I don’t know what would happen if I came face to face with him,” he told Politis newspaper.
However, just a week before the Akin interview was published, when asked the same question, the father had said: “I have one wish, if there’s ever a solution, don’t give this man, who’s not Cypriot, but a settler, the right to stay in this country.”
Solomos Solomou was shot five times on August 14, 1996, by Turkish snipers while climbing up a pole trying to remove the Turkish flag from its mast. Solomou and hundreds of others were protesting two days after the murder of his cousin Tassos Isaac by a Turkish mob on the UN buffer zone.
Camera images show Solomou, cigarette in mouth, climbing the pole before coming under a barrage of fire. Five shots hit Solomou in the neck, mouth and stomach. He died immediately.
In the footage, Akin is clearly seen pointing a gun and shooting at Solomou. The government put a €460,000 price on his arrest, while Interpol issued an arrest warrant.
Akin admitted shooting Solomou in 2004 but claimed the order was given by the former Turkish Military Commander. He also maintained that ballistic evidence existed which proved his was not the fatal bullet. He has lived freely in the north for the last 13 years.
He was arrested in Turkey some years back for smuggling but was later released, despite the Interpol arrest warrant. Five warrants in total were issued for the murder of Solomou. So far, no arrests have taken place.
By Stefanos Evripidou, Cyprus Mail, February 24, 2009