British colonial forces raped a 15-year-old girl and tortured civilian detainees with beatings and mock hangings during the Cyprus uprising in the 1950s, papers lodged at the High Court reveal.
The devastating claims have been made in damning eyewitness reports by 31 elderly men and two women who are suing the Government for human rights abuses.
The evidence comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed in April that senior British officers had seen evidence of beatings, torture and murder by soldiers during the British occupation of the island, and that their complaints had been covered up by the authorities.
Inhuman: A prison camp where the British kept suspected EOKA terrorists
The British Government denies any wrongdoing and has appealed against a High Court ruling that the case can be heard in the UK.
Lawyers representing the Cypriots, who were mostly juveniles at the time, say they have irrefutable evidence, including detention and medical records.
The Cyprus insurgency began on April 1, 1955, when the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) began a four-year insurgency against British authorities determined that ‘Cyprus shall never have self-determination’.
Military personnel and local police were given free rein, Cypriot fighters were rounded up and torture was said to be used to gather intelligence. One woman, known only as Mrs XY and now in her 70s, was suspected of being an EOKA member. She was taken from her home by Turkish Cypriot police in 1956, under the command of Detective Sergeant Geoffrey Leach. Court papers state she was driven to a forest area, beaten and raped by the officers.
She was then taken to a police station, beaten during interrogation and ‘pushed between her tormentors like a ball’, before passing out.
At one point a noose was tied around her neck and tightened.
In 1960, the Cyprus government paid for medical treatment for internal injuries resulting from the multiple rape.
Her lawyers at Birmingham-based K. J. Conroy & Co argue that the colonial government not only breached the Convention on Human Rights, but also failed to protect the rights of its own subjects.
British guards in Camp Kokkinotrimithia, one of the two installations in Cyprus housing suspected terrorists, search Greek visitors. Visitors were allowed, with gift parcels, and some prisoners lived entirely off the food that is brought to them
Christos Constantinou, 83, says he was arrested three times in 1956 and on the third occasion he was taken to the British Army camp Xeros, where he was punched and beaten. He was then stripped to the waist and whipped with a metal chain by a member of the intelligence corps and two Gordon Highlanders.
Christos Socratous, now 79, was detained in 1958. Then 18, he was kicked, beaten, stamped on, then forced to stand in a stress position – spreadeagled, with his arms up – for four hours.
‘They kept saying I was a terrorist and that I knew about a bomb going off,’ he said last week.
During his 28-day ordeal, he saw other young men being dragged from their cells to be tortured.
British guards in Camp Kokkinotrimithia, one of the two installations in Cyprus housing suspected terrorists, speak with Cypriot visitors
There had been complaints about the abuse at the time.
Former Grenadier Guards officer Jamie Eykyn, 79, told The Mail on Sunday that he and his colleague, the late Major Michael Stourton, were so appalled that they complained to their superiors. They were ignored, and the Ministry of Defence removed the episode from the official history of the Grenadier Guards.
Christos Socratous insists the case is not just about money, but about justice. ‘What they did was wrong and yet they have always denied any wrongdoings.
‘I want my day in court. I want my story to be told so that people know what the British did in Cyprus.
‘The point is that it did happen. That must be acknowledged and a public apology made.’