Israeli Property Developer Arrested at Checkpoint While Crossing from North Cyprus

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Nicosia, Cyprus - Israeli property developer Simon Mistriel Aykut was arrested on Friday while attempting to cross from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) into the Republic of Cyprus at an unspecified checkpoint.

Aykut is the founder of the Afik Group, a company that has undertaken numerous construction projects in the town of Trikomo, located within the TRNC. Many of these projects are believed to have been built on land belonging to Greek Cypriots.

The Afik Group confirmed Aykut’s arrest on Saturday, stating that the "founding president of the Caesar Project within the Afik Group was arrested by the Paralimni police following a tip-off." They further clarified that while Aykut has been transferred to Nicosia, reports of him being presented in court and remanded for eight days are "completely false and wrong."

This incident follows a controversy surrounding the Afik Group a year ago when the newspaper Politis reported that a law firm co-founded by then-Cyprus Bar Association chairman Christos Clerides was representing Afik Group CEO Afik Yaacov.

The report alleged that Yaacov had registered a company named Danilen Ltd in Nicosia using the same address as Clerides’ law firm. This alleged link came to light during the bar association’s routine oversight of lawyers' compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.

At the time, the law firm vehemently denied the allegations, stating that reports of them assisting individuals with matters related to the TRNC or any involvement in illegal activities were "false and a result of sinister and ulterior motives." A government source had also informed the Cyprus Mail that they were “carefully following” the case.

Aykut’s arrest highlights the ongoing sensitivities surrounding land ownership and development in Cyprus, particularly in areas under the control of the TRNC. The situation is further complicated by the involvement of international actors and businesses. The outcome of Aykut’s case and its potential ramifications on the activities of the Afik Group remain to be seen.

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