Cyprus has released three British former soldiers jailed for the brutal 1994 rape and killing of a young woman at a tourist resort, an official said yesterday.

The men were freed after completing sentences, Nicosia prison governor Michalis Hadjidemetriou said.

The killing of Danish tour guide Louise Jensen caused outrage and forced military authorities to restrict troop access to resorts on the island.

The last of the three - Geoffrey Pernell, aged 36, from Oldbury - was released on Monday.

Alan Ford, aged 37, of Birmingham, and Justin Fowler, aged 38, of Falmouth, walked free on August 8 and August 18. All three have returned to Britain.

The former soldiers, discharged after their convictions, were jailed for life in 1996 for kidnapping Jensen outside an Ayia Napa nightspot and battering her to death with a shovel.

The sentence was reduced on appeal in 1998 to 25 years.

Prosecutors said they raped the 23-year-old, whose body was found in a shallow grave near the resort. The men claimed they were too drunk to know what they were doing.

Cypriot law allows early release for good behaviour, and in 2003 all prisoners had a presidential pardon cutting terms by a quarter.