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Police chief sacked over serial killings

Nicosia, Cyprus—Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has sacked the country’s police chief, as shock over the murders of seven foreign women and girls—including two Filipinos—gave way to outrage at the authorities for a botched response.

Police chief sacked over serial killings
A picture taken on May 3 shows a hanging rose outside the presidential palace in Nicosia. AFP
A suspect identified in local media as 35-year-old Greek Cypriot army officer Nicos Metaxas has confessed to the seven killings in a crime spree that went undetected for nearly three years.

With the island reeling from what has been dubbed its first “serial killings,” Cypriot authorities have been accused of failing to properly investigate the women’s disappearances due to neglect and racism.

The president on Friday fired top police officer Zacharias Chrysostomou a day after Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou announced his resignation over the case.

The killings came to light in mid-April when unusually heavy rains brought the body of 38-year-old Filipino Mary Rose Tiburcio to the surface of the disused mine shaft where it had been hidden. 

Days later, authorities found the body of a second woman in the shaft, believed to be Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, also from the Philippines. 

The suspect then guided investigators to a well near an army firing range outside the capital, where police found the body of a third victim—an unidentified woman of Asian origin.

On Sunday, police recovered the remains of a fourth victim, stuffed in a suitcase at the bottom of a toxic man-made lake next to a disused mine southwest of the capital Nicosia.

Outrage over how authorities handled the case has prompted protests outside the presidential palace in the capital Nicosia.

One Filipino female worker attending the protest told AFP she has a “strong feeling that I’m not safe walking in the street, maybe somebody will be behind me or somebody will do something that I don’t know how to protect myself from.”

“I have that threat in my heart—it’s so scary,” she added. 

Topics: Nicos Anastasiades , Nicos Metaxas , serial killings , Ionas Nicolaou
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