3 British held over stabbing death of soldier in Cyprus
Three British tourists in Cyprus have been remanded in police custody in connection with the killing of a teenage British soldier during a disco row in the holiday resort of Ayia Napa.
David Lee Collins, 19, from Manchester, was stabbed to death during a night club confrontation with a group of British tourists in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The soldier was stationed at the Dhekelia garrison with the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The regiment is part of British army reserve forces for Afghanistan.
The tourists, 19-year-old Mohamed Abdulkadir Osman, and two 17-year-old suspects, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are being held in custody for eight days to allow investigators to complete their enquiry.
They face possible charges of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit a crime, possession of an offensive weapon and use of cannabis.
The London trio appeared in court looking apprehensive while Mr Osman was sporting a bruised right eye.
Murder carries a maximum life sentence in the eastern Mediterranean island.
Police said the incident occurred when four off-duty British soldiers had a confrontation with the suspects at a club in Ayia Napa.
The fracas is believed to have ignited over taunting related to Manchester-London regional rivalry, officer Stelios Christodoulou told the court.
During the heated row one of the three allegedly drew a knife injuring the 19-year-old soldier in the chest.
Mr Christodoulou said that Mr Osman had admitted to stabbing the victim but said it was in self-defence as he and his friends were allegedly attacked by the soldiers.
Although the two 17-year-olds put themselves at the scene of the crime they claim to have taken no part in the violence, he added.
Mr Collins was pronounced dead on arrival at Famagusta General Hospital in nearby Paralimni.
An official autopsy carried out on the soldier concluded he died from a “ruptured heart caused by a sharp instrument”.
A switch-blade recovered at the scene of the crime was to undergo forensic tests. Eleven similar knives bought in Ayia Napa as “souvenirs” were found at the trio’s hotel room, police said.
British Bases spokeswoman Connie Pierce the incident happened in an area out of bounds to soldiers because of previous incidents.
British soldiers have been banned from pubs and clubs at the centre of the resort since 1994 when Louise Jensen, a 23-year-old Danish tour guide, was abducted, raped and beaten to death by three British servicemen.
The soldiers were sentenced to life for the killing, reduced to 25 years on appeal on the grounds that they were too drunk to have planned the attack. They were released in 2006.
Ayia Napa is the island’s most popular resort among younger holidaymakers, especially British tourists attracted by the buzzing night life.
Around 9000 British troops and their dependants are stationed on Cyprus as Britain retained two large strategic sovereign base areas after the island gained independence from colonial rule in 1960.