Heritage

Lurucina, 1915: Murder of a policeman.

By Ismail Veli…….

Lurucina in 1915 was by Cyprus standards a reasonable sized village. Apart from theft of sheep and minor incidents violence was rare, but in 1915 the village was shocked to its foundation.

A policeman posted from Evdimou/Duzkaya to Lurucina named Ibrahim Mulla Halil, was killed after intervening in an incident between Seyit Ali and Osman Karaye.

The dispute between the 2 Lurucina men Seyit Ali and Osman Karaye started when Seyit Ali suspected that Osman stole one of his goats. This was however just a series of disputes which seemed to have been going on between the two. Though not unusual for those days, Osman often carried a knife which was intimidating to Seyit Ali. Bumping into each other in the village centre an argument ensued and Seyit Ali fearing Osman may stab him, decided to report Osman to the village Muhtar (Mayor) Yusuf. The police were informed that tensions were high and the situation was one of concern. Policeman Ibrahim decided to take the matter in hand, arriving at the village centre he could not find Osman but was told by locals that he had just left. Despite being cautioned by the village Muhtar to use caution and let the situation calm down, Ibrahim however was determined to find Osman and confiscate his knife before he threatened anyone. Together with a local man Halil Mustafuri decided to search for Osman and they found him at the place of the village where Gulferi the tailor’s shop was situated. The events that followed were to end in tragedy.

Lurucina location of Gulferi the tailor’s shop: Picture courtesy of Hussein Selim. – Policemen of the period

Ibrahim the policeman demanded Osman to hand his knife over. He refused. Surrendering one’s knife in 1915 was considered to be unmanly and an insult. It escaped Osman that he was dealing with a police officer and not a rival. The policeman advanced to grab the weapon, a struggle ensued and Osman stabbed Ibrahim. It was a fatal wound but apparently hanging on to Osman until others ran and grabbed the knife from him. Osman froze in his tracks as Ibrahim fell to the floor. The realisation that the policeman was bleeding profusely from a deep wound may have made him realise that he could be facing murder which at the time carried a death sentence. It’s possible he did not mean to stab the policeman but in the heat of the moment and struggle he lost control. According to Hasan Yucelen’s book ”Lurucina 100 years struggle for existence” on page 37, a mob gathered round and wanted to lynch Osman. The Muhtar (Mayor) intervened and told the crowd that there were laws in the country and only they could determine the sentence. In the meantime messengers were sent to the nearby Jewish (3 miles away) Margo Ciftlik (farm) where a doctor was always on duty. But in 1915 the time taken to travel there and back on a mule took ages. It turned out to be a fatal period. Ibrahim died from loss of blood. Simultaneously extra messages were sent for police reinforcements in order to arrest and deliver Osman to the central authorities who at the time were British.

Nicosia Courthouse during British rule

Osman was tried for murder. His father spared no cost, and even sold some property in order to save his son’s life. Eventually Osman was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years in prison. On his release he returned to Lurucina only to find that the whole village shunned him. He decided to emigrate to Antalya, Turkey. He never returned to his homeland and saw his life out in Antalya where he died.

Reports in the local media found in the national archives have shed some light on the events but the 2 papers found gave slightly different versions to the tragic events of Ibrahim’s killing. The incident however has not been forgotten by most old timers of Lurucina. As with most things related to old time stories however there are contradictions and even possible embellishments. The archive and written reports are as close as we are likely to get to the truth. Only the circumstances are slightly different however, the result of the fateful event is something all agree on.