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Nikos Sampson

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Title: Nikos Sampson  
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Subject: Makarios III, Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Civilian casualties and displacements during the Cyprus conflict, Timeline of events in Cyprus, 1974, Northern Cyprus
Collection: 1935 Births, 2001 Deaths, Anorthosis Famagusta Fc Players, Cancer Deaths in Cyprus, Cypriot Footballers, Cypriot Journalists, Cypriot Orthodox Christians, Cypriot People of the Eoka, Cypriot Prisoners Sentenced to Death, Cypriot Refugees, Eastern Orthodox Christians from Cyprus, Leaders of Political Parties in Cyprus, Leaders Who Took Power by Coup, Newspaper Publishers (People), People from Famagusta, Prisoners and Detainees of Cyprus
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Nikos Sampson

Nikos Sampson
Nikos Sampson
de facto President of the Republic of Cyprus
In office
15 July 1974 – 23 July 1974
Preceded by Makarios III
Succeeded by Glafcos Clerides (acting)
Personal details
Born 16 December 1935
Died 9 May 2001 (aged 65)
Nicosia, Cyprus
Political party Progressive Party (1969–1970)
Progressive Front (1970–1974)
Religion Church of Cyprus

Nikos Sampson (also Nicos; Greek: Νίκος Σαμψών; 16 December 1935 – 9 May 2001) was the de facto president of Cyprus who succeeded Archbishop Makarios, after a coup d'état, as President of Cyprus, in 1974.[1] Sampson was a journalist and a member of EOKA, which rose against the British colonial administration, seeking Enosis (Union) of the island of Cyprus with Greece. He was eventually arrested, and sentenced to death, but was imprisoned in Britain after the sentence was commuted, returning after Cyprus gained independence.

Upon his return upon the formation of the Republic of Cyprus, he entered politics, becoming a member of Parliament. Following the coup of 1974 by the Greek Junta, he was appointed President, and remained in the position for eight days. Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 20 July he resigned. He was later sentenced to twenty years in prison for abuse of power, the only person convicted vis-à-vis the coup, maintaining there had been a setup and cover up. Three years into his sentence, he was allowed to go to France on medical grounds, and subsequently settled in France. He returned to Cyprus in 1990 to resume his sentence, and was pardoned for the remainder of his sentence in 1993. Following his release, he went into the newspaper publishing business. He died of cancer in 2001.


  • Early life 1
  • EOKA activities 2
  • The 1960s 3
  • The 1974 coup 4
  • Imprisonment and later years 5
  • Legacy 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • References 8

Early life

Sampson was born in the Cypriot port city of

  1. ^ Cook, Chris; Diccon Bewes (1997). What Happened Where: A Guide to Places and Events in Twentieth-century History. Routledge. p. 65.  
  3. ^ "Nikos Sampson, 66, Cyprus President After Coup, Dies".  
  4. ^ The Terrorist List, p. RA2-PA144, at Google Books
  5. ^
  6. ^ James Ker-Lindsay (2004). "Britain and the Cyprus Crisis 1963–64".  
  7. ^ S. Akhtar Ali. Pakistan & Gulf economist, Volume 4, Issues 27–52 (1985), Economist Publications, p.7.
  8. ^ Newsweek, Volume 84, Issues 1–14 (1974), Newsweek, p.46
  9. ^ James Ker-Lindsay and Hubert Faustmann (2008) The Government and Politics of Cyprus, Peter Lang, p89
  10. ^ "Mr Nicos Sampson denies he knew coup was coming".  
  11. ^ "Sampson N. Sotiris".  


  • Cyprus, Paul D. Hellander, 2003 ISBN 1-74059-122-4
  • The Cyprus Question and the Turkish Position in International Law, Zaim M. Necatigil, 1993 ISBN 0-19-825846-1
  • Η Μεγάλη Ιδέα της Μικρής Χούντας, Makarios Droushiotis, 2010
  • H Αλήθεια, Bonanos, 1986
  • Απο την Ζυριχη στον Αττιλα, Spyros Papageorgiou, 1980
  • Η Κατάθεση Μου, Glafcos Clerides, 1991
  • Πόρισμα της Ελληνικής Βουλής για τον Φακελο της Κυπρου, 1988
  • Πόρισμα Κυπριακής Βουλής για τον Φακελο της Κυπρου, 2011
  • Φάκελος Κύπρου: Τα απόρρητα Ντοκουμέντα, Eleftherotypia, 2010
  • 30 Hot Days, by Mehmet Ali Birand
  • 1974 – To Agnosto Paraskinio tis Tourkikis Eisvolis – Makarios Droushiotis
  • Years of Renewal-Kissinger Henry
  • Makarios Speech to the Security Council of the UN – 19 July 1974 – H Tragiki Anametrisi kai i Prodosia tis Kyprou – Marios Adamides – 2012
  • Secret Minutes of the Conversation of Makarios with the Prime Minister of the U.K Wilson – 17 July 1974 – H Tragiki Anametrisi kai i Prodosia tis Kyprou-Marios Adamides – 2012
  • Secret Minutes of the Conversation of the Prime Minister of Turkey Ecevit with the Prime Minister of the U.K Wilson – 17 July 1974 – H Tragiki Anametrisi kai i Prodosia tis Kyprou – Marios Adamides – 2012


The right wing community refers to Sampson as a hero of the EOKA struggle. Whereas the left wing community although it acknowledges his contribution to the EOKA struggle sees him as a traitor to the Republic of Cyprus for his involvement in the coup and complicity in the murder of numerous liberal and left-wing Greek Cypriots.


He is survived by his wife Vera and two children, one of whom is a lawyer and the other a journalist. His son Sotiris Sampson was elected member of the House of Representatives of Cyprus for three terms in a row in Famagusta District.[11]

Following his release from Nicosia Central Prison in 1993, he went back to the newspaper publishing business. He died of cancer on 10 May 2001 in Nicosia at the age of 65.

In 1979, only three years into his prison sentence, he was allowed to go to France on medical grounds. Living in Neuilly, and then in Fourqueux, he was supported by funds of friends. He spent much of his time between Paris and Marseilles before returning to Cyprus in June 1990 to complete his sentence.

The invasion lost Sampson much of his popular appeal. He claimed not to have anticipated the impending coup that had installed him, adding that, after military officers had insisted, he "saw the possibility of civil war and accepted"[10] to prevent the clashes. Nonetheless, Sampson was prosecuted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for abuse of power (Greek: νόσφιση εξουσίας) in 1976.

Imprisonment and later years

In 1969 Sampson founded the Progressive Party, which later merged into the EOKA B whose goal was enosis. Following the death of Grivas in January 1974, the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 gave active support to EOKA-B. Nikos Sampson maintained a strongly nationalist, pro-Greek position throughout these years. On 15 July 1974, Makarios was deposed by a military coup which was led by Greek officers of the Cyprus National Guard. The Greek military junta installed Sampson as President, as a result of a decision of Colonel Constantinos Kombokis, Deputy leader of the coup, when the President of the Supreme Court could not be found and an ex Makarios minister Zenon Severis refused to take over as President. Sampson's appointment was an on-the-spot decision to avoid a power vacuum. The second Junta of Greece fell on 24 July 1974, only eight days after Sampson had been appointed. Sampson was forced to resign. The Greek Cypriot government was restored under Glafkos Clerides. Sampson was pardoned for his role after the coup by the re-installed Makarios, but the pardon was then repealed.

The 1974 coup

Following an explosion to the statue of EOKA hero Markos Drakos in Nicosia, Sampson actively participated in clashes between the Greek and Turkish communities in December 1963. On the morning of 24 December, the clashes in Nicosia spread and fighting continued into the subsequent year.[6] Sampson led armed groups in fierce battles between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot irregulars. Following the fight in Omorphita, Nikos Sampson was nicknamed by the Turkish Cypriots as the "Butcher of Omorphita".[7][8] To the Greek-Cypriots he was hailed as the "conqueror of Omorphita".

Sampson returned to newspaper publishing. In 1960 he set up the newspaper Makhi (Greek: Μάχη), meaning battle, or struggle, which was one of the first Greek newspapers in circulation in the nation of Cyprus. In 1961, in a series of newspaper articles, he admitted his responsibility for the death of the police officers in 1956 during the resistance campaign against British rule. According to the Telegraph, as a journalist, he flew to Algeria to interview Ben Bella and to Washington to talk to US President John F. Kennedy.

The 1960s

At the time, Sampson was working as a journalist, and he would often photograph the bodies of his victims after killing them, then send the photographs to The Cyprus Times newspaper to be published. The police became suspicious about how Sampson was always the first reporter to arrive at the murder scene and he was arrested. Only a month after his acquittal, he was given away by informants and arrested in the village of Dhali. He was convicted of weapons possession which, under the emergency regulations of the moment, carried a death sentence. The death sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment and Sampson was flown to the United Kingdom to serve it. A year and a half later, under a general amnesty as part of the 1959 Zürich and London Agreement, he was released but he remained in exile in Greece until Cyprus gained formal independence in August 1960. He returned to Nicosia shortly after Independence Day.

During the Nicosia, which was nicknamed "Murder Mile", and shot dead numerous British servicemen, police officers, and civilians.[2] He was involved in at least 15 killings.[3][4] According to British sources, the actual number was much higher.[5] Among his victims were three police sergeants, and in May 1957, Sampson was tried for one of their murders. He confessed, but was acquitted on the grounds that his confession may have been coerced by torture.

EOKA activities
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