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Greek Cypriots can 'reclaim land' says the ECJ

The EU's top court has backed the right of a Greek Cypriot to reclaim land in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus that has since been sold to a UK couple.

Meletis Apostolides was one of thousands of Greek Cypriots who fled his home when Turkish forces invaded in 1974, following a Greek-inspired coup. The land was later sold to Linda and David Orams, who built a villa on it. The European Court of Justice says a ruling in a Cypriot court that the villa must be demolished is applicable. Even if the ECJ ruling cannot be enacted because the land is under Turkish Cypriot control, it means Mr Apostolides will be able to pursue a claim for compensation in a UK court.

It could also open the way for hundreds more Greek Cypriots to demand restitution for properties they were forced to flee. Many Britons and other foreigners have invested in property in northern Cyprus, despite the legal ownership still being in some doubt. Mr Apostolides said he was "very much" pleased with the EU court's ruling, and that it was "what we expected". He added: "This is a difficult issue that has to be decided by the courts."

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