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Murder victim's final hours at sun island party

A YOUNG Irishman spent his last hours at the birthday party of a friend on the holiday island of Zanzibar before his body was found near a beach, a murder trial has heard.

Robert Stringer (26), from Newcastle, Co Wicklow, was found dead in August, 2009, after spending five weeks on the holiday island off Tanzania in the Indian Ocean.

He had been working with the Irish charity, Camara.

His parents Keith and Josephine Stringer and his two younger brothers Peter and Graham were in court in Zanzibar to hear the opening of a murder case against two accused men, Othman Khamis (35) and Mohammed Abdulah, both residents of Zanzibar.

The two face life imprisonment or the death penalty if found guilty. The first witness for the prosecution, Peter Minchin, a South African national, told the High Court that he had been celebrating his birthday on August 5, 2009, the night Robert was killed.

Mr Minchin said he had asked one of the accused, Othman Khamis, to drive Mr Stringer to his home to join him and another seven guests at a party. Khamis, who drove Mr Stringer to the party, had been Mr Minchin's best friend for 12 years, he told the court.

At about 5pm, everyone left Mr Minchin's home, which is at Nungwi beach, in the Indian Ocean's archipelago and went to a local bar. The celebrations continued there until 1am.

"Before I went to sleep I said goodbye to Stringer and we agreed to meet the next day for further business discussions ... I was shocked next morning to hear that he had been found dead," Mr Minchin said.

He added that at around 4am, Khamis phoned him to ask the whereabouts of Stringer.

"I told him I didn't know," he said. "I was surprised to hear a few hours after the call that Stringer has been found dead."

The hearing has been adjourned until next Thursday.