Charges in the killing of a British tourist in Peyia last summer have been reduced from premeditated murder to manslaughter.
A 35-year-old Greek national, who is accused of killing 39-year-old Briton Charlie Birch in a Coral Bay hit-and-run last summer, pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges on Tuesday, after entering a similar plea to previous premeditated murder charges during his arraignment back in September.
Prosecutors introduced reduced charges during the criminal trial hearing, with the suspect still maintaining the incident was an accident. It was not immediately clear if there had been any discussions of a possible plea bargain.
It was not immediately clear if there had been any discussions of a possible plea bargain
The defendant is being accused of slamming his car into two Britons who were on foot, killing Birch instantly and wounding his 32-year-old friend. The car then sped away and was later found abandoned in the water at a local harbour in front of eye witnesses.
The two friends were vacationing in Cyprus and were at a bar in Coral Bay in the early morning hours on June 24 when they saw the suspect verbally and physically abusing his girlfriend. Witnesses said the two friends stepped in to protect the woman and ended up getting into a fight with the suspect, who then left the premises.
Cops were criticised for arresting the suspect’s girlfriend along with the main suspect. She was later released with no incriminating evidence against her, while police said they followed protocol in her arrest.
The defendant will remain behind bars in Nicosia Central Prisons while the start date of the criminal trial has been set for March 12.
A sentencing for premeditated murder would have automatically carried life imprisonment. If the suspect is found guilty of manslaughter charges, he could face a maximum of life in prison.