British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson raised the issue of northern Cyprus’ refusal to hand over to the Republic the two suspects wanted for the murder of a British tourist in Ayia Napa during his visit to Cyprus last month, Britain’s prime minister said on Wednesday.
Theresa May was responding to MP Gareth Johnson ‘s question during Prime Minister’s Question Time in the British parliament.
“I’m sure all of us across the house would want to send our deepest sympathies to the family of George Low and our very best wishes to Ben Barker for a full recovery from the terrible injuries that he suffered as a result of what was a violent and completely unprovoked attack,” she said of the two victims of the August 14 attack in Ayia Napa.
She said that Johnson had raised the case with the Turkish Cypriot authorities during his visit to Cyprus on November 30.
“He clearly set out our desire to see those guilty of this attack brought to justice,” she said.
Her comments followed the circulation of a petition on Monday calling on the British government to pressure the Turkish authorities to hand over the two suspects to stand trial for murder.
Low, a 22-year-old estate agent from Dartford, in Kent, and his friend Ben Barker were walking along Grigori Afxentiou Street in Ayia Napa when they were attacked by two men armed with knives who then fled. Low was killed following a blow to his throat which severed his carotid artery. Barker, who was stabbed in the back four times, survived.
The two suspects had then crossed to the north where they were arrested a few days later, and were put on trial in the north by a Turkish military court on charges of illegally trespassing into a military zone, but not for the killing.
Arrest warrants issued by Cyprus police for the two men – Mehmet Akpinar, 22, and Sali Musa Ahmet, 43 – are still outstanding, with authorities in the north refusing to hand over the two fugitives despite reports that the two had admitted to their involvement in the killing.
“In August 2016, George Low and his friend Ben (Barker) were attacked while on holiday in Cyprus. George was killed and Ben seriously injured. The two attackers then fled to the unrecognised state of the TRNC and were arrested. Up to now Turkey has refused to hand them over to stand trial,” reads the petition.
The petition to the UK and EU parliaments as well as May and Johnson aims to urge them to exert pressure on Turkey to hand over the two accused men to stand trial for the murder and attempted murder of Low and Barker.
“One is already free and the other will be in less than a year. After this they will both be free to live their lives with no consequences for the crimes they committed in Cyprus,” the petition concludes.
Last week one of the two men, who reportedly confessed to the killing of Low was jailed for a year in the north after admitting to violating a military zone.
Akpinar, who was also awaiting trial on charges relating to illegally entering a military zone, was released days earlier, having served the three-month sentence he received while in custody.
A British High Commission spokesperson in Nicosia confirmed that Johnson had raised the case during his visit.
“He mentioned that the issue is of concern to the UK, and that we hope the perpetrators can be brought to justice, expressing the concerns of the family,” the spokesperson said.
Find the petition here