Cypriot police seek handover of Ayia Napa Briton murder suspects
Published 23/08/2016 | 14:36
Police in Cyprus have asked authorities in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north to hand over two suspects in the killing of a British man and the serious wounding of another Briton in the island's coastal resort of Ayia Napa.
Turkish Cypriot official Hakki Celal Onen told The Associated Press the request would be considered after the two suspects, Mehmet Akpinar, 22, and Sali Ahmet, 42, have been tried in a Turkish Cypriot military court on charges of trespassing into a military area.
The trespassing charges stem from the two men allegedly crossing into the north at least twice from areas other than the seven checkpoints that regulate pedestrian and vehicular traffic through the 120-mile United Nations-controlled buffer zone that cuts across the island.
Cyprus police said the two suspects are believed to have fled to the north and out of their reach shortly after the August 14 fatal stabbing of George Low, a 22-year-old from Dartford and the serious wounding of another 22-year-old Briton Ben Barker. Police said the stabbings happened after the Britons got into a scuffle with one of their attackers.
Akpinar's 48-year-old Greek Cypriot girlfriend told police during questioning that Akpinar admitted to her that he and Ahmet committed the stabbings after scolding the two Britons for urinating in public.
Cyprus police are treating the stabbings as premeditated and attempted murder.
Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since a 1974 Turkish invasion in the wake of a coup aiming at union with Greece. Authorities in the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot south do not recognise and have no control over the north and cannot make arrests there.
Mr Onen, who heads the Turkish Cypriot half of a committee tasked with facilitating cooperation on criminal matters between the two sides, said Cyprus police misidentified the suspects as Turkish Cypriots.
He said Akpinar is a Turkish national and Ahmet is believed to be a Bulgarian national.