Cyprus village dispute could lead to change in law

File image of a graveyard in Cyprus Image copyright Getty Images

A dispute in Cyprus between a resident and his local council over a graveyard plot he will never use could result in a change in the law.

Andreas Gregoriades, 71, is refusing to pay a village levy on the local cemetery, even though he's made arrangements to be buried elsewhere, the Cyprus Mail reports. Oroklini council took out a 1.4m-euro loan ($1.5m; £1m) in 2010 to buy the graveyard, and levies its 6,000 residents 80 euros per year to cover the cost of repayments. However, only those with religious reasons or have an alternative plot within the community are exempt from the charge, and Mr Gregoriades plans to be buried at a family plot in nearby Larnaca. His refusal to pay the local levy has landed him in court.

Mr Gregoriades has the backing of the influential Cyprus Union of Communities, which says that he's in the right, but the 2004 law on cemeteries needs to be changed. Advising the Oroklini council to stop pursuing him through the courts, the Union's executive secretary, Panayiotis Damianou, said that he'd consult with the interior ministry to have the loophole closed as soon as parliament reconvenes after this May's elections.

"It is not about the money, it is a matter of principle," Mr Gregoriades told the paper, urging council officials to recognise that they've made a mistake. For now, they've lowered the levy to 65 euros on account of his age, a sum he is still refusing to pay.

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