Teenagers to face trial over soldier death in Cyprus

15/11/12

Memorial for David Lee Collins
Image caption Memorial for David Lee Collins at the spot where he was stabbed

Three teenagers from the UK will face a court trial next year over the death of a British soldier in Ayia Napa.

Mohamed Abdulkadir Osman, 19, and two 17-year-old suspects who cannot be named, face manslaughter charges.

In court last week, Mohamed Osman said he had acted in self-defence after a fight with 19-year-old Private David Lee Collins of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

The other two suspects said they had nothing to do with the violence.

The three teenagers face a total of five charges including manslaughter, possession of knives and illegal drugs.

Fusiliers' barracks in Dhekelia
Image caption 3,000 British soldiers are based at Dhekelia which is 25 miles from Ayia Napa

Fusilier Collins, from Manchester, was stationed at Dhekelia garrison, about 12 miles (20km) west of Ayia Napa.

His regiment is part of British army reserve forces for Afghanistan and he had defied a ban for a night out in the town with three off-duty soldiers.

Cyprus Police say he got into a fight outside a club with three British tourists on 4 November.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says British soldiers will now face disciplinary action if they go into Ayia Napa's town centre.

Club Black & White
Image caption The row took place inside Club Black & White which is now sealed up

The main square has been off limits for soldiers since 1994 after three servicemen were convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing a Danish tour guide.

Rules were relaxed slightly in 2008 but now the MoD says that since the death of Fusilier Collins, the area is out of bounds again.

Local bar owners Tony and Fish said: "The ban isn't fair and has never worked. It's not difficult for the soldiers to come in.

"They usually keep a low profile and we let them into the bars all the time to have a drink."

Ayia Napa's main square
Image caption Soldiers are banned from entering Ayia Napa's main square

A soldier at the barracks in Dhekelia said that they were all on lockdown and the mood was low.

The MoD says they've increased military patrols around the square for now to make sure the ban is upheld and will keep it under review.

They say if any British soldier is caught there, they'll face disciplinary action.

There are two British military bases in the former colony, which gained independence in 1960, which are home to more than 3,000 personnel.