Tour guide screamed for help, says boyfriend

Cyprus soldiers' trial: Danish woman 'was forced into the back of a car' in early hours of the morning
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The Independent Online
Michael Vassiliades sat less than 10 feet from the three British soldiers accused of bludgeoning his Danish girlfriend to death. Heavily sunburnt, his black hair in a ponytail, a stud in his left ear, only occasionally did he point to Privates Alan Ford, Jeff Pernell and Justin Fowler of the Royal Green Jackets Regiment. It was Pte Pernell, he said yesterday, who chased him down a lonely road and attacked him with a shovel as the other two threw Louise Jensen into the back of their Mini Moke at around one in the morning on 13 September last year.

And when at last he described his feelings - without any rise in the level of his voice - he stared at the three Britons accused of killing her. "She was shouting 'help', she was insulting them, she was trying to get away, she was shouting my name ... at the time they put her in their car, I said to myself at that moment, I felt that the girl was lost ... if I'd had a gun at that moment, I would have shot all three."

Pte Ford sat immediately opposite the young Cypriot, his head lowered. The other two soldiers looked at Louise Jensen's boyfriend without moving. At the back of the court, Jack Fowler, the father of the second accused, sat equally silent, his eyes fixed on Michael Vassiliades. "I remember her legs," he went on. "They were putting her on the back seat. Her legs were partly outside [the vehicle]. She was kicking. They put her with her back inside ... " The Cypriot barman, who is now a catering student in Nicosia, told the Larnaca Assize Court how he hid behind a petrol station in the hope of waylaying the three soldiers when they passed with his girlfriend but that their car travelled in the opposite direction, away from him.

On a bench behind Mr Vassiliades there stood a large cardboard box from which Petros Clerides, the prosecuting counsel, proceeded to take, slowly and with care, the last mortal effects of the Danish tour guide with whose manslaughter and attempted rape the three British soldiers are charged. He placed Louise Jensen's boots - small, ankle-length, swathed in a polythene bag - on the desk in front of her boyfriend. "They are the boots of Louise," he muttered. They were followed by a small leather belt. "This is the belt of Louise," Mr Vassiliades said. "The same applies to the boots - she was wearing these that night."

From another bag, Mr Clerides produced the items found on her body in the mortuary, the remaining possessions Louise Jensen had worn on the night she climbed aboard her boyfriend's motorcycle for what was supposed to be a trip to a sick friend: a gold neck chain with a cross, an ear- ring "from the left ear of the victim", an ear stud, a ring "like a wedding ring", a gold and black bracelet "from the right arm of the victim". And a Casio wrist-watch, its strap corroded inside the plastic bag but its minute-hand still moving.

There was something unnerving about the way it continued to turn, still powered by the same battery Louise Jensen had put in it, still moving to a time set by the girl before she met her terrible end - stripped, hands bound, battered to death with a shovel - almost 11 months ago.

Mr Vassiliades showed no obvious emotion at the sad possessions on the tables around him. Indeed, for much of the time he referred to his dead girlfriend not as Louise but only as "the girl".

He had been working to four on the morning of the hearing, and turned up 10 minutes late at court yesterday. He sat outside during the adjournment smoking a cigarette and moving his head from left to right when asked to do so by television crews and photographers.

He had seen the accused, he told the court, on the evening of 12 September when they parked their Mini Moke car outside the restaurant where he was working. Louise had called by and arranged for him to pick her up on his motorcycle; she did not know the accused - "Louise was not a girl who would know such men", her boyfriend said - but the three soldiers had been filling their vehicle with petrol when the couple arrived at the all-night but unmanned gas station on the road outside Ayia Napa.

The three had left the station first, Mr Vassiliades said. He left afterwards, tried to overtake the Mini Moke but was surprised to find that it swerved into his path and knocked him off his machine, along with Louise. "Their car stopped around 20 metres up the road," he continued. "I noticed the rear lights coming on. I thought they were going to come and help me ... I don't think she [Louise] suffered any serious injury but I don't know. At that moment, I didn't know what was happening. Their car came back at such speed, it hit my motorcycle again. Whereupon I knew that something was not correct, not logical, that these people were trying to harm us." One of the three men hit him with a shovel and chased him down the road, Mr Vassiliades said, at which point he saw the other two carrying Louise to the back of their vehicle. "There was no shouting [from them], as if they had planned to do it."

Later, after alerting the police, he said he saw the three again in a local police station. "I thanked God they had caught them and I expected to see the girl." But she was not there. "At this point I couldn't control myself. I think the police took me outside. But I recognised them ... I was shocked ... the police wouldn't tell me anything. I went outside to their car. I saw blood on the seat."

The three soldiers are pleading not guilty to the charges. The hearing was adjourned until today.

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