Three greek cypriots today were charge with manslaughter in the assassination of U.S. Ambassador Rodger Davies during an anti-American riot following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in August 1974.
The three, including two policemen, are allegedly gunmen of the extreme rightist EOKA-B.
Three other greek cypriots were with less serious offenses for their involvment in the voilent riot around the U.S. embassy that covered the fusilade of bullets that killed Davies and his Greek Cypriots secretary.
Of the six men in the smakeshift dock, the most notorious is Neopolemos Leftis, a small, sunbrowned man with handlebar moustache.
Leftis allegedly acted briefly as a bodyguard for Nicos Sampson, the EOKA-B leader who served as President who served as president after the 1974 coup sponsored by the now-deposed Athens junta. Sampson is now serving a 20-year sentence in a cell only a few hundred yards from the Nicosia courtroom where his followers are being arraigned.
Leftis' name had been linked to bank robbery conducted by tank during a previous bout of violence on the island and to a number of other offenders.
The other two men charged with manslaughter were policemen at the time of the killing. They are Ioanniks Ktimatias, who in the meantime has been convicted of an unrelated arms offense and Loizos Savva.
"All factions on Cyprus have traditionally used the police force to shelter their gunmen until time for party action," an experienced observer explained.
The accused - some in suits, others in the military parkas favored here by hunters - are rugged-looking men ranging in age from 28 to 52. Among Cypriots, some of them were known as "hit men" of the shadowy EOKA-B movement, whose members are motivated by a mixture of patriotism, money and macho.
A bail request was defereed until Saturday by the judge who conducted the hearing in a small, harely furnished courtroom of the Nicosia district court, a one-story sandstone quadrangle only a stone's throw from the Turkish front line.
There was little visible special security and no disorder from the 50 spectators, mostly family members, during the arrangement. The political support of the EOKA-B has been undercut since the Turkish invasion, which was triggered by the EOKA-B coup.
Police are expected to claim that the accused men belonged to a group of EOKA-B members who were infuriated when the coup backfired. They apparently had believed that the coup would have American approval. To take revenge, they allegedly used a leftist demonstration to spray the ambassador's office with bullets. Under Cupriot law, their participation, if established, can convict them of manslaughter even if the lethal bullet itself cannot be traced.
Evidence will be presented in early March at a public inquiry, the equivalent of a grand jury hearing.