Posted on January 24, 2019
The group was arrested on suspicion of being part of paramilitary organisation EOKA, which fought a guerrilla campaign to overthrow British control in Cyprus. One woman, aged 16 at the time, said she was repeatedly raped by soldiers. The government said the settlement was not “any admission of liability”.
The 1955-59 rebellion was known as the Cyprus Emergency, during which the governor enacted draconian laws, flooding the island with 30,000 soldiers, police officers and Turkish-Cypriot thugs.
Some 371 British military personnel died during the emergency.
The claimants – now in their 70s and 80s and in poor health – have had to wait almost 60 years to seek justice for their injuries, because the government documents outlining their treatment were classified and out of reach until 2012. Cristos Socratous said he was about 18 when he was picked up by British soldiers, detained and beaten every day for 28 days. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that people in British uniforms and civilian clothes stripped him naked, deprived him of sleep and interrogated him about planting a bomb, which he denied. “I was so tired I couldn’t stand. The pain was very bad. They had these big police truncheons and they hit me on my arms, my stomach, my chest, my legs,” he said. After four weeks they released him, his face bloodied. “I didn’t go back to my parents’ house because I didn’t want my parents to see me like that,” he said. It took about six months to recover, but Mr Socratous, who now lives in Ilford, east London, said he still suffers nightmares. “I’m still scared,” he said. But he declined to say if he had any involvement with EOKA, the armed group that fought against British rule. “Whatever I did, it was for myself,” he said.