NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus police have formally asked authorities in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north to hand over two men wanted in connection with the killing of a British man and the serious wounding of another Briton in the island's coastal resort of Ayia Napa, an official said Tuesday.
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.
Onen said 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 180 kilometer (120 mile) United Nations-controlled buffer zone that cuts across the island.
Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since a 1974 Turkish invasion in the wake of a coup aiming at union with Greece. The request for the suspects was made through a joint committee tasked with facilitating cooperation on criminal matters between the two sides because the internationally recognized government of the island's Greek Cypriot south doesn't recognize the breakaway north and police cannot make arrests there.
Cyprus police said the two suspects are believed to have fled to the north and out of their reach shortly after the Aug. 14 fatal stabbing of George Low, a 22-year-old from Dartford and the serious wounding of another 22-year-old Briton. Police said the stabbings happened after the Britons got into a shoving match 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.
Onen, who heads the Turkish Cypriot half of the joint committee on criminal matters, 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.