in Cyprus Today – 29/6/2011

Robb facing charge over land deals – Gary Robb will be the first person to be charged with developing and trading in former Greek Cypriot land next month. On his release from prison in England on 13 July, the 48 year old will be re-arrested and extradited to South Cyprus. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison in July last year for his part in a major drugs operation in his native north east England. He is due to be released on parole, given the time he spent on remand awaiting his trial. He had been on the run in North Cyprus for 13 years, where he launched his failed development business. He had always professed his innocence before pleading guilty at Teeside Crown Court.

While he finished a number of villas on smaller sites, he left his two main Aga Development estates – Amaranta Valley and Hz Ömer – unfinished. Amaranta Valley in Arapkőy is built on former Greek Cypriot land and led to a European arrest warrant being issued against him in 2005. Robb took millions in down payments including some which were double sold, and initially fled to Thailand, although he returned in a deal brokered with the TRNC government in 2006. Hundreds of people were left out of pocket and Robb failed to pay compensation awarded to his victims by the courts. British police believe he siphoned off £35million from about 400 victims.

Constantis Candounas, the lawyer behind the Orams case said it was not the Aga buyers that were losers, but those who lost their rights to the land in 1974. “It is the Greek Cypriot refugees who are the victims” he explained. “For the Britons, it was as though they were buying something off the back of a lorry.” Developing or profiting from the sale or development of former Greek Cypriot land in North Cyprus carries a maximum penalty of seven years. European arrest warrants were also issued against Robb’s former partners at Aga, Tuncal Tahir Soycan and Akan Kurșat. In interviews Robb claimed he had often gone  to the South on shopping trips hidden in the boot of a car.

Tragic end to birthday trip -A birthday celebration ended in tragedy when Lapta villager Elke Sander-Self drowned while swimming during a boat trip. Her husband Brian is known for his contributions to newspapers in the TRNC including Cyprus Today.

Tunnel planned for mountain range – The government has devised a plan to bore a tunnel under the Five Finger mountain range to link Girne to Lefkoșa. Officials said the construction of the new road would help boost the economy as part of a wider modernisation of roads in the TRNC

Turkey supports building of two new motorways – On Sunday a protocol was signed between Turkey and the TRNC for the start of work improving and extending the road network.

Expat title deeds scandal ‘could be solved in hours’ – The chairman of the Construction Contractor’s Union has described the failure to pass on title deeds to expats as an “international scandal.” Cafer Gũrcafer urged the government to work strenuously to ensure that the sector – on the verge of rebellion – could move forward. He said that if the government was sincere in its claims that the TRNC was a legitimate state, they needed to act with authority. Mr Gũrcafer said the problem could be solved in a few hours but had been going on for years. He said his members are on the verge of rebellion as the construction sector remains in the doldrums.

Politician calls for free entry to Karpaz national park – The chairman of the Iskele district branch of the Social Democratic Party, Erkut Yılmazbaşar has demanded an immediate end to the practice of charging an entrance fee for visitors to the Karpaz National Park.

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