Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cyprus: Three British Tourists Held in Stabbing Death of British Soldier in Ayia Napa

According to The Independent, three British tourists have been arrested and are being questioned by Greek Cypriot police after an off-duty soldier was stabbed to death at a nightclub at 0330 hours earlier today (November 5), Black n' White, in the popular resort of Ayia Napa.

The decedent, a 19-year-old assigned to the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed after he and three other soldiers allegedly became involved in a dispute with the three tourists. 

According to witnesses, a knife was used during the argument between the soldiers and the tourists to stab the victim in the chest, who was pronounced dead on arrival at Famagusta General Hospital in nearby Paralimni. The soldier's next-of-kin have been notified.

COMMENT: Two of the Britons are ethnic Pakistanis, which has raised concern about a possible political motive in the decedent's death.

Connie Pierce, a spokeswoman for Britain’s two military bases in Cyprus, said the incident happened in a part of Ayia Napa that is off limits to British soldiers because of past altercations.

In 1996 three British soldiers were convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of a Danish tour guide, Louise Jensen, 23. They were released on appeal in 2006. In 2008, the mayor of Ayia Napa threatened to ban soldiers from the entire town after a rampage by nine British soldiers caused extensive damage. The military ban was partially lifted in 2009 to allow daytime visits, but soldiers are still banned from the main square in Ayia Napa. 

About 3,500 British soldiers are based in Cyprus on two permanent bases, Dhekelia and Akrotiri, retained after the island gained independence in 1960.

It should also be noted that the incidence of sexual assault and rape of foreigners in Ayia Napa is a frequent occurrence as is economic crime, as the Cypriot economy on both sides of the Green Line have deteriorated. Unfortunately, Ayia Napa is not particularly well-policed, given it unbridled nightlife.

Unfortunately, Cyprus' economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for four-fifths of GDP. Erratic growth rates over the past decade reflect the economy's reliance on tourism. Cyprus adopted the Euro in January 2008. Prosperity subsequently declined after the global recession as construction and tourism slowed in the face of reduced foreign demand. The economy tipped into recession in 2009, contracting by 1.7%, and has been slow to bounce back since, posting an anemic growth rate of 1.0% in 2010. Growth was flat in 2011.  Cyprus's borrowing costs have risen steadily because of its exposure to Greek debt. In response to the country's deteriorating finances and risk from the Greek debt crisis, Nicosia is promising to implement measures to cut the cost of the state payroll, curb tax evasion, and modify social benefits.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.