Turkish and Greek Cypriot law enforcers have set up a joint information centre on the divided island to fill a policing gap fostered by years of estrangement since the Mediterranean island's division.
It is a big step for Cyprus where police authorities of rival sides do not even communicate, and where criminals often attempt to jump the boundary to escape prosecution, sponsors said.
"There was no connection between law enforcement agencies which is most unusual, and we are remedying that," said Commander Phil Spence, the Deputy Senior Police Advisor for the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus.
The United Nations is backing the venture which is getting finance from the United States. An information centre was opened in the U.N. controlled buffer zone splitting Cyprus on Thursday.
The U.N.-supported team on crime has formally handled 89 cases since it started just over a year ago, and has informally exchanged information on hundreds of others. It has handled murders, theft, people-smuggling and trafficking, leading to prosecutions on both sides, Spence said.
"We hope the cooperation between the sides will turn into cooperation of the police forces of the constituent states of a federal Cyprus," said Kudret Ozersay, the senior adviser to Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu. But there are still problems.
Turkish Cyprious does not have extradition treaties with other jurisdictions and several wanted men have fled there in recent years.
One of the most high profile is Asil Nadir, head of collapsed British conglomerate Polly Peck. He has been living there since 1993 despite being wanted in the UK.
ReutersLast Mod: 29 Temmuz 2010, 17:38