Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Property Spat Over Turk-|Controlled Cyprus Fails

WASHINGTON (CN) - Greek Cypriots cannot claim here that the government in control of Northern Cyprus gave their homes to Turkish Cypriots, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman noted Thursday that United Nations peacekeeping forces still maintain the "Green Line" that has separated the Turkish-occupied north from the rest of Cyprus since a brutal conflict in 1974.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has been the name of the government for sectioned-off segment of Cyprus since 1983. Although the United States does not recognize it as a state, the TRNC purportedly operates as a democratic republic with a president, prime minister, legislature and judiciary, Friedman said.

The Greek-descended Cypriots make up about three-quarters of the population of Cyprus and practice Christianity. Turkish-descended Cypriots are Muslim.

In a 2009 federal class action, Michali Toumazou and other Greek Cypriots who fled south in 1974 complained that the TRNC confiscated their property and redistributed the land to Turkish Cypriots.

HSBC was named as a defendant for allegedly facilitating the deal, which required the Turkish Cypriots to renounce their rights to property in southern Cyprus.

Judge Friedman found no showing Thursday, however, that that the TRNC is vulnerable to a lawsuit in Washington. He dismissed the claims against it for lack of personal jurisdiction.

"Even if true, [the plaintiffs' allegations] fall woefully short of demonstrating that the TRNC is 'at home' in the District of Columbia," the ruling states.

The homeowners also failed to state a claim against HSBC, according to the ruling.

Friedman said the class failed to distinguish its claims between the TRNC and HSBC, and therefore violated federal procedure.

"It would be futile to permit plaintiffs to file an amended complaint," the judge added.

The ruling makes no mention of a multibillion RICO class action brought in 2012 by Brits who bought some of the northern Cyprus property from the TRNC as vacation homes.

That complaint, which also named HSBC as a defendant, said that the TRNC operates illegally in the republic of Cyprus through the "brute force" of 40,000 Turkish troops.

The TRNC previously defeated a complaint by singer Julio Iglesias, who claimed that he was duped into agreeing to perform an illegal concert in Cyprus by a military organization. Iglesias

Earlier this year, a talent agency complained that certain Turkish Cypriots tricked it into booking that Iglesias gig.

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