The unsolved murder of George Low was back in the headlines this week, with some new information about additional possible suspects and a frustration over two identified suspects who remain at large.
Low, a 22-year-old real estate agent from Kent with business connections in Ayia Napa, was killed in a knife attack back in August 2016, outside a nightclub in the resort town, while his 24-year-old friend Ben Barker was also stabbed but survived the attack.
New information that came to light through a coroner’s inquest, which was held at the Archbishop's Palace in Maidstone, revealed more detailed statements by Barker who explained what had happened right before, during, and right after the attack. The official finding of the inquest was that Low’s death was an unlawful killing.
Barker said the two friends were bar hopping on Saturday night through the early hours of Sunday morning on 14 August 2016. In a statement he had made the day after his friend’s murder, he said Low had pushed a man a few moments earlier, with the victim running after the man and Barker running after George outside a bar.
Around 3am, after the suspects ran away, they came back with two others and a fight ensued between the two British friends and the four males according to eye witnesses. Previous reports did not clarify the exact number of men involved in the attack.
Kent police were working with Turkish authorities on possible actions regarding one or both suspects
Barker managed to hold down one of the attackers until he felt a sharp object hit his back. Moments later he realized he had been stabbed and pulled the knife out. Another friend helped him take his shirt off to cover the wound, while Barker turned around and saw a “circle of people” in the street where his friend was lying in a pool of blood.
"I noticed George had been stabbed in the neck and I panicked," he said.
Eye witnesses said they saw the victim pulling the blade from his neck before collapsing. A post mortem ruled the cause of death as hemorrhagic shock as a result of injury to the lung and carotid artery through the use of a sharp object.
It was previously reported that the incident took place following a public urination incident and an altercation the two friends had with the two identified suspects, 46-year-old Bulgarian national Sali Ahmet of Turkish origin and 26-year-old Turkish national Mehmet Akpinar of Kurdish origin.
The two suspects fled to the north of the island where they were detained and sentenced on charges unrelated to the Ayia Napa attack. They were then released in Turkey where they are believed to remain at large.
Akpinar, who was said to have been living in the south with a Greek Cypriot female around the time of the murder, cannot be extradited to Cyprus as Turkey does not have extradition agreements. Low’s parents have been pushing for the British government and the EU parliament to put pressure on Turkey to hand over the two known suspects.
Efforts to extradite still ongoing
But despite little progress so far, one man believes he could get one of the suspects extradited to Cyprus.
British MP Gareth Johnson, who has been following the case and also visited the island last year, acknowledged it was difficult to bring the perpetrators to justice due to the political situation in Cyprus. But recent efforts through the bicommunal crime committee have been fruitful in some cases, where murder suspects were exchanged between north and south on the divided island. Johnson said that efforts were being made to have at least one of the suspects extradited to Cyprus, referring to Ahmet, who is not a Turkish citizen.
The MP was also quoted previously as saying that he was frustrated over the fact that the British coroner had made repeated attempts to colleagues in the Republic of Cyprus to get details of the outcome of the inquest held in Paralimni last year.
“They hadn’t provided him with details of the outcome of the inquest in Cyprus, which is absolutely astounding. I cannot for the life of me understand why that information is not being provided,” Johnson said.
The conservative MP also met with the Turkish ambassador, adding that Kent police were working with Turkish authorities on possible actions regarding one or both suspects.
Two other arrests in the Republic of Cyprus had taken place initially in the case on charges of aiding and abetting in a crime. One male suspect was later released while a female accused of helping one of the suspects was remanded for eight days and later released. She was reportedly living with Akpinar in the south prior to the attack. Police believed she helped her boyfriend retrieve his phone and brought him a change of clothes after the attack.
Police also said they had tried to trace the escape route of the two suspects with the use of security camera footage but investigators were unable to identify more suspects. However, further developments on additional suspects were never officially ruled out.
Low was scheduled to fly out of Cyprus on the day of his murder.