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Trial of UK man accused of murdering sick wife postponed

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The trial of a 74-year-old British man charged with the premeditated murder of his terminally-ill wife in Paphos was postponed on Thursday due to a backlog of other cases.

The Criminal Court postponed the hearing until  19 September due to a busy schedule and an ongoing case concerning the sexual abuse of a child.

Prosecution lawyer Andreas Hadjikyrou requested the accused remain in custody until the new trial date, and the defence did not object.

UK pensioner David Hunter has pleaded not guilty to the premeditated murder of his sick wife, with defence lawyers arguing that he should instead be charged with assisted suicide.

Justice Abroad, a group that defends Britons embroiled in legal difficulties in foreign countries, says the case against Hunter is likely the first euthanasia case to be tried in Cyprus.

It comes as MPs debate whether to decriminalise euthanasia amid strong opposition from conservative circles, including the influential Orthodox Church.

Hunter’s wife Janice, 74, died in December 2021 at the couple’s retirement home in Paphos, where many of the up to 60,000 British expatriates live.

Justice Abroad lawyer Michael Polak said Janice was on heavy medication for a type of blood cancer.

He said Cyprus’ Attorney-General George Savvides rejected a defence request to reduce the charge to assisted suicide, which would likely keep Hunter out of jail without providing any reasoning for his decision.

“No one believes Mr Hunter should go to jail for this,” Polak told The Associated Press.

The defence will also argue that the man’s confession to the police was made under mental stress and under the influence of medication and alcohol.

He is accused of suffocating his wife last December in ​​Tremithousa and faces a life sentence.

According to Paphos police, the Briton “confessed to killing his 75-year-old wife by blocking her nose and mouth with his hands”.

He told police she was ill with leukaemia and “could not see her suffer anymore”.

When she died in their flat, Hunter was left stricken with grief and tried to end his own life.

Hunter’s daughter Lesley has launched a Crowd Justice campaign to fund the defence of her father.

He is a former miner from Northumberland, England, who retired to Cyprus with his wife.

They had been together for 56 years and were teenage sweethearts.