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British soldiers face charges after Cyprus brawl.

Nine British soldiers are facing charges in Cyprus after an incident in the coastal town of Ayia Napa on Friday night, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.

It is understood the charges arose from a brawl in the Bedrock bar in the popular holiday resort, which is known for its lively nightlife.

Cypriot state radio quoted local police as saying at least 20 British soldiers from the nearby Dhekelia garrison are suspected of attacking the pub owner and five customers, smashing chairs, bottles and glasses. Two locals and three British soldiers were reportedly injured.

British Military Police are working closely with Cypriot police on their inquiry into the incident.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "We can confirm there was an incident on Friday night in the Cypriot town of Ayia Napa involving a number of British forces.

"We can now confirm that nine soldiers serving with 2 Royal Regiment of Fusiliers have been charged with a variety of offences and inquiries into the incident are continuing.

"The Military Police continue to work closely with the local police as part of this ongoing investigation. No further information is available at this time."

The charges include causing grievous bodily harm, causing malicious damage and disturbing the peace, Cypriot police said.

The soldiers were out celebrating their final pay day before their tour of duty of Cyprus ended, said British Forces in Cyprus spokesman Dennis Barnes.

One of them needed hospital treatment after suffering a fractured skull in the fight.

They have now been confined to barracks pending an investigation.

Mr Barnes said the bar was located in an area of Ayia Napa declared off-limits to British service personnel after three troops - two of them from the West Midlands - were jailed for the 1994 rape and murder of a Danish tour guide, Louise Jensen, near the resort.

The three soldiers, Allan Ford, from Birmingham; Geoffrey Pernell, from Oldbury, Sandwell, and Justin Fowler, from Cornwall, were all members of the 1st Battalion the Royal Greenjackets. They were sentenced to life for the murder but that was reduced to 25 years for manslaughter on appeal on the grounds that they were judged too drunk to have planned the attack. They were released in August 2006 after serving 12 years.

About 3,650 UK personnel and civilian workers are based in Cyprus.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 4, 2008
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