Wednesday, 1 March 2023
A documentary directed by Turkish Cypriot director Dervis Zaim, has been selected for the prestigious “True-False Film Festival” in Missouri, USA, Yeniduzen reports.
The film titled “Tavuri ” explores the themes of crime, habitual criminals, society and personal liberty, by documenting eight years of the life of infamous Turkish Cypriot conman Mustafa Serttaş – nicknamed Tavuri (Devil). The film was shot both in North Cyprus and in England.
Serttaş, who died in Nicosia in 2019, had, intermittently, spent over half of his life in prison. He was brought up in an impoverished and broken home in Cyprus, dropped out of primary school and began stealing.
According to Turkish daily Hurriyet, when aged 13 he stole a pot of white beans from a restaurant and returned the cleaned pot, only to be arrested and sentenced to 16 months in prison.
He became known for scamming hundreds of people, including politicians, one of whom was the late Greek Cypriot President Tasos Papadopoulos.
In an interview he said: “I wore my suits and went to Papadopoulos’ law firm. I said that I owned a bank in the TRNC and that I had to flee because my business was going badly, and that I wanted to smuggle my money in my suitcases to the Greek side. I showed fake documents and he believed me. I explained that I had to give some cash to the intermediaries in order to smuggle money, and I got 50 thousand lira equivalent to today’s Turkish lira, then I fled to the TRNC. Papadopoulos called me several times, but I did not pick up the phone. I defrauded not only Papadopoulos, but many Greek lawyers with the same method”.
Serttaş was released from prison in the 1990’s after being pardoned by the late founding President of the TRNC, Rauf Denktaş
Having spent three and a half years in a Greek Cypriot prison, he was pardoned by the then President Nicos Anastasiades in 2016.
Serttaş characterised himself as a modern-day Robin Hood, saying that he only swindled people who had wanted to make easy money and were thus taken in by him and that he gave some of the proceeds to the poor.
Tavuri died in intensive care in Nicosia from a heart condition,at the age of 55.
He had spent 36 years of his life in prison.
“True-False Film Festival” runs between 2 – 5 March.