Although death is a tragic experience there are instances of death which require further investigation as to the causes which resulted in death.
In this respect many jurisdictions all over the world provide for a death inquest procedure in the framework of which the rights of the family members of the deceased are well defined, as well as the powers of the inquisitor.
Under Cyprus Law, the death inquest procedure is provided for in the Law of Death Inquisitors, chapter 153 which outlines the timeline for the inquest, the duties and powers of the inquisitor and the rights of the family members of the deceased.
It should be stressed that the purpose of a death inquest is to investigate all possible causes which resulted in death and as such it is in no way a criminal case, nor should it be regarded as a criminal procedure following which a prison sentence will be imposed.
The main objective of the death inquest is to examine the reasons which lead to death by hearing oral evidence, i.e. witnesses are summoned before the court. During a death inquest exhibits can also be submitted to further assist the inquisitor, as well as the parties involved, including the lawyer representing the family members of the deceased, to discover the real cause of death. Hence a death inquest decision will never specifically stipulate who is liable for causing the death to the deceased, but will only state either that sufficient evidence exists to justify the filing of a criminal case against a prospective defendant or that the evidence heard and submitted is too weak to support and satisfy the legal pre-requisites for a criminal case to stand before the court.
Another interesting point which is worth stressing, is the fact that under Cyprus Law No 153 (Death Inquest Procedure)
any person who may be a suspect for causing the death, and is therefore summoned before the court to provide evidence, is entitled to be represented by a lawyer which may result in the participation of a number of additional parties in the inquest procedure.
Our firm has over the years has successfully dealt with numerous death inquests and the author of this Article, Ms Marina Philippou, has a broad experience in this field and in this respect she has she been involved in a wide range of death inquest cases including a recent death inquest case within the criminal jurisdiction of the District Court of Larnaca representing the family of the deceased in an inquest which concerned the death of a British diver who died in the wreck “Zenovia”, located currently in the sea area / maritime zone of Larnaca district.