NICOSIA - Three British tourists will face manslaughter charges when they go on trial in Cyprus for allegedly killing a teenage British soldier in a fight in the holiday resort of Ayia Napa, police said on Thursday.
Mohamed Abdulkadir Osman, 19, and two 17-year-old suspects who cannot be named for legal reasons appeared in court on Thursday but did not have to answer any charges.
They will be asked to enter a plea when the case goes to trial at Larnaca criminal court on January 24.
A Famagusta district court will decide on Friday whether the Britons will remain in custody or be freed on bail until the trial.
They face possible charges of manslaughter, possession of a knife and use of a class B drug.
David Lee Collins, 19, from Manchester, was stabbed to death in a nightclub confrontation with a group of British tourists on November 4.
Collins was stationed at Dhekelia garrison with the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, part of British army reserve forces for Afghanistan.
Manslaughter carries a maximum life sentence in the eastern Mediterranean island.
Police said the incident occurred when four off-duty British soldiers argued with the suspects.
The fracas is believed to have ignited over taunting related to Manchester-London regional rivalry.
During the row, one of the three allegedly stabbed the 19-year-old soldier in the chest with a knife.
Police have said that Osman had admitted to stabbing the victim but argued it was in self-defence as he and his friends were allegedly attacked by the soldiers.
Although the two 17-year-olds put themselves at the scene of the crime they say they played no part in the violence, said police.
An autopsy concluded Collins died from a "ruptured heart caused by a sharp instrument."
Police said a switchblade was recovered at the scene of the crime and 11 similar knives bought in Ayia Napa were found at the trio's hotel room.
British Forces Cyprus said the incident happened in an area out of bounds to soldiers because of previous incidents.
British soldiers have been banned from pubs and clubs at the centre of the resort since 1994 when Louise Jensen, a 23-year-old Danish tour guide, was abducted, raped and beaten to death by three British servicemen.
Ayia Napa is the island's most popular resort among young holidaymakers, especially British tourists attracted by the nightlife.
Around 9,000 British troops and their dependants are stationed on Cyprus as Britain retained two large strategic sovereign base areas after the island gained independence from colonial rule in 1960.