Two male suspects extradited from Turkey to face trial in the Chloraka killing of a 20-year-old Syrian man have pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder charges, with a judge ordering them to remain in custody while nine others face manslaughter in the same case but separate trial.
Syrian nationals Walid Al Moustafa, aged 22, and 25-year-old Tarek Haj Halaf appeared before a Paphos criminal court on Monday where they pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder charges in connection with the killing one year ago of 20-year-old Jamal Alhadz, also from Syria.
The two defendants, who were extradited from Turkey to the north where they were jailed by Turkish Cypriot authorities for illegal entry, were handed over to Greek Cypriot law enforcement officials in the south. The two men were wanted in the killing of Alhadz, whose body was found hidden in a coastal area last year in a riverbed near Chloraka, Paphos district.
It was unclear whether prosecutors struck a deal with any of the primary defendants, who were purported to have been involved in stabbing the victim, hiding his body, and then fleeing to the north
Paphos police had previously arrested nine other suspects in Paphos and Limassol and initially charged them with premedidated murder and murder conspiracy but prosecutors revised the charges to manslaughter and kidnapping with intent to do harm. The men were then released on bail after months of detention and pleading not guilty.
Reports said the killing took place in Vrexi where Alhadz was stabbed multiple times during an altercation along a road between Chloraka and Kato Paphos. Some of the individuals implicated in the incident have maintained they went to the area to scare the victim with others saying they intended to stop the fight.
Local media said the local attorney of the two main suspects requested on Monday that murder charges be dropped for one of his clients, with the state prosecutor expected to answer in the next hearing.
It was not clear whether prosecutors had struck a deal with any of the primary defendants, who were purported to have been involved in stabbing the victim, throwing his body behind a reed bed, and then fleeing to the north. Reports said police believe other suspects, whose separate trial is set to take place in mid April, helped the two men run away.
The murder trial is set to begin on March 23, while it was unclear whether any defendants would be used as prosecution witnesses.
Initial reports in the media had suggested police investigators had been looking into a possible motive behind the bloodshed, namely an affair between the victim and the partner of the main perpetrator.