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Istanbul Mosque Land to Return to Greek Origin Citizen


To the 92-year-old sole heir of former Ecumenical Patriarch Maximus V will be returned a precious plot on Istanbul‘s Anatolian side, where currently a mosque is located, Turkish newspaper “Milliyet” reported on December 18.

The decision for the land’s return, located in the Kadikoy district near the shores of the Marmara Sea, was approved by the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals and the land will be given back to the Turkish citizen of Greek origin Stamatis Papamanolakis. The area was seized by the Turkish state that made use of a 1964 regulation. According to the same source, Papamanolakis does not want the mosque to be demolished, as he declared that it also a sacred place for himself, but only demands the price of the land from Turkey’s National Treasury. The legal battle for the return of the land belonging to his ancestor was won just recently, the report said.

In 1949,Ernestug Vaportzis, member of the city’s Greek community, bought a mansion on the site by Vatan Kumizian, which after his death in 1971 was left to his two brothers, former Patriarch Maximus V and Yiannis Vaportzis. Patriarch Maximus also died a year later and the last brother died in 1974. After that, the mansion was left to Yiannis Vaportzis’ wife, Kornilla Vaportzis, who in 1982 wrote a testament in which she said she was leaving the mansion and the land it is built on to her foster child, Papamanolakis.

The Turkish Treasury then filed a lawsuit and demanded the cancellation of the inheritance documents given by Kornilla Vaportzis, based on a 1964 regulation, which forbade Greek origin Turkish citizens from purchasing land in the country, so in 1985 the Kadikoy Civil Court of Peace confirmed the Kornillia Vaportzis’ documents cancellation and the state seized the land where the Fenerbahce Mosque was built later, while its owner died when the case was still in the courts.

In 2008, Papamanolakis filed a lawsuit at the Kadikoy Civil Court, demanding the return of his family land and the Court decided that the 1964 regulation was “unlawful,” saying that it was a temporary decision that did not cancel people’s rights to their properties. Later, the Supreme Court of Appeals overruled the decision and despite the fact that the local court insisted in its ruling, the land was decided to be given back to Papamanolakis.

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