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Murdered man's body found after tree 'unusual for the area' grew from seed in his stomach

Mirror logo Mirror 21/09/2018 Sibel Abdiu
a close up of a logo: Remains and samples which were found at the scene where Ahmet Hergune was killed © CEN Remains and samples which were found at the scene where Ahmet Hergune was killed

A missing man who was murdered more than 40 years ago has been found - after a seed from a fig in his stomach grew into a tree.

Ahmet Hergune was killed during the conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in 1974, but his body remained undiscovered for decades.

It was eventually discovered because the tree which grew from him was unusual for the area.

Incredibly, the dead man had been taken into a cave with two others and both of them had been killed by dynamite that was then thrown in after them.

Yet the dynamite also blew a hole in the side of the cave, allowing light to flood into the darkened interior which in turn allowed the fig tree to grow from the man's body.

Up to 200,000 people were displaced in the conflict.

a group of people preparing food in a kitchen © Credits: CEN

His sister, 87 year-old Munur Herguner, said: "We used to live in a village with a population of 4,000, half Greek, half Turkish. In 1974, the disturbances began. My brother Ahmet joined the Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT). On 10th June, the Greeks took him away."

She added: "For years we searched for my brother in vain."

But she said that unknown to her, the grave had ended up being marked by the fig tree that grew from the seed in his stomach.

The tree was spotted in 2011 by a researcher who was curious as to how the tree had ended up in the cave and especially in a mountainous area where it was not usually found.

While carrying out his research and digging around the tree, he was then horrified to find a human body underneath and raised the alarm. On digging further, police recovered a total of three bodies.

Munur Herguner added that her brother was believed to have been the one that had eaten the fig, and blood samples from her family matched DNA fragments which confirmed it was her brother's final resting place.

As detectives investigated the killing, they discovered that the brother Ahmet and the other two had been killed by dynamite in the cave, and the blast had made a hole in the cave that let in light. He had apparently eaten the fig shortly before he died.

a rocky mountain © Credits: CEN His sister said: "The fig remnants in my brother's stomach grew into a tree as the sun crept into the cave through the hole made by the explosion. They found my brother thanks to that fig tree."

The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) has been searching for 2,002 people who disappeared on the Mediterranean island between 1963 and 1974.

It was launched in 1981 following an agreement between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities under the auspices of the United Nations.

The committee was tasked with the mission of preparing a list of missing persons and discovering what had happened to them.

They identify missing bodies by taking blood samples from relatives and wherever possible using descriptions of the clothing people were wearing immediately before they disappeared.

A total of 1,222 excavations have been carried out in the island so far, and remains have been found in 26 percent of those excavations.

The Research Team, consisting of ten people led by Thomas Antoniou and S'la Murat, have identified and returned the remains of 890 people, including Ahmet, over the last 12 years.

Ahmet's story is miraculous, as his discovery decades later owes itself entirely to the life that emerged from his dead body in the unlikely shape of a fig tree.

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