CYPRUS: Criticism turns on police after ‘serial killings’ emerge

Cyprus police are under the spotlight in what appears to be a failure to take reports of disappeared persons seriously after the bodies of two missing women, thought to be Filipino, were recovered from a disused mineshaft.

A 35-year-old Greek Cypriot suspect who contacted the victims online dating network has been remanded in custody, with reports saying the National Guard officer confessed to both murders, as well as to killing the six-year-old daughter of one of the women.

Police have come under blistering criticism for seeming indifference to the initial missing person report filed last year, failing to conduct a proper investigation that could have prevented what appears to be a serial killings probe.

Mary Rose Tiburcio, a 38-year-old housemaid from the Philippines had been missing since May 2018 along with her six-year-old daughter after meeting someone she had chatted to over an online who used the alias Orestis Apoel 35. The woman’s body was the first to be discovered last week in a mineshaft in Mitsero by a German tourist.

A few days later another body was pulled out of the mineshaft, which according to the suspect, belongs to another Filipino woman he murdered named Arian Palanas Lozano, 28. Lozano was missing since July 2018. She was reported missing by her employer, a high-ranking police officer at the time.

An organization representing third country domestic workers has reported the disappearance of three Filipino women over the past two years with the police allegedly not taking any action.

Louis Koutroukides, the head of the Housemaids’ Association had reported Mary Rose’s disappearance to the police in May 2018.

He told reporters that he had contacted the police hotline 1460 and asked to talk to the Chief of Police, only to be told by responding officers to report the incident to a police station. When he went to the police station with a friend of Mary Rose, he was told that they could not accept their complaint because they were not relatives.

Koutroukides said the police asked him how old he was and when he said he was 70, he was asked: Why do you care about a Filipina?

Police sent them on their way saying that mother and daughter had probably left the country through the occupied area.

Koutroukides later wrote an open letter to Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, referring to the disappearance of three Filipino women over the past two years, making reference to the existence of a possible serial killer targeting Filipino women.

The letter was published in Politis newspaper in August last year.

Commenting on the murder of two Filipino women, Doros Polykarpou the head of immigrant support group KISA, told the Financial Mirror that although he would be cautious about attributing racist motives to the suspect, it would appear the culprit was targeting vulnerable members of the society.

The murderer’s motive, however, needs to be evaluated so that society draws its conclusions on how to deal with the killer, that is to evaluate the risks if at some point he is to be released back into society, said Polykarpou.

Vulnerable Women

He said that whether the killer was motivated by racist sentiments towards a certain group in society remains to be seen, however, society has made these people vulnerable.

Usually serial killers target vulnerable members of their society, which are not necessarily of a certain ethnic descent. Unfortunately, third country citizens in Cyprus are treated as second class citizens. They are faced with racist behaviour from people they meet on the streets, while also being faced with institutional racism when they go to report mishaps to the police or when they visit the public health care system which does not treat them equally.

The National Guard will also have to look into the suspect’s motives, said Polykarpou, so as to identify if we are dealing with a one-off case or whether there are more army officers inclined to follow the same path.

The army should seek advice on how to identify such people. Let us not forget that the suspect was promoted recently to captain and was given a medal for his services to the military, noted Polykarpou.

He said that the focus should not be concentrated on who is to blame, rather on solving the cases and bringing closure to the families of the victims.

However, the chief of police and the Minister of Justice need to assume their responsibilities and at least apologise. Police acted rather quickly, finding the culprit after the first body was found. It did so, however, using evidence presented to them a year ago.

There are also a number of Vietnamese women on the missing persons’ list. We know of 7 women from Vietnam who are missing. Vietnamese coming to Cyprus to work usually keep to themselves and their disappearance may have gone unreported, added Polykarpou.

Patrikios Pavlou, a lawyer following developments surrounding the disappearance and murders of women from third countries, told the Financial Mirror that the minister should resign not just because the police failed to do its duty, but because the minister himself had set the standard, when he called for the resignation of Justice Minister Kypros Chrysostomides back in 2008.

Chrysostomides was forced to resign over the escape of a convict serving life in state prison, after pressure from Nicolaou, who was an MP for the then main opposition party DISY.

The Financial Mirror also contacted the Honorary Consul for the Philippines in Nicosia, Shemaine Alonso Bushnell-Kyriakides, who said although authorities have been helpful in the majority of cases involving workers from the Philippines, the police failed to carry out its duty in the cases of the two murdered Filipinos.

We are saddened to hear of the recent murders. We had been in contact with the police since their friends and employers had reported to us that they were missing. In one of the cases, we had specifically asked the police to look into the phone records of the victim and for us to be granted access. This did not happen, said Kyriakides.

A woman with a child, leaving behind her personal belongings and passports, and just disappearing are red flags and the police should have acted on them. Like I said there was a child involved. They should have followed procedures and talked to her school, relatives, neighbours and sent out an amber alert, she added.

Source: The Financial Mirror

CYPRUS: Criticism turns on police after ‘serial killings’ emerge

Cyprus police are under the spotlight in what appears to be a failure to take reports of disappeared persons seriously after the bodies of two missing women, thought to be Filipino, were recovered from a disused mineshaft.

A 35-year-old Greek Cypriot suspect who contacted the victims online dating network has been remanded in custody, with reports saying the National Guard officer confessed to both murders, as well as to killing the six-year-old daughter of one of the women.

Police have come under blistering criticism for seeming indifference to the initial missing person report filed last year, failing to conduct a proper investigation that could have prevented what appears to be a serial killings probe.

Mary Rose Tiburcio, a 38-year-old housemaid from the Philippines had been missing since May 2018 along with her six-year-old daughter after meeting someone she had chatted to over an online who used the alias Orestis Apoel 35. The woman’s body was the first to be discovered last week in a mineshaft in Mitsero by a German tourist.

A few days later another body was pulled out of the mineshaft, which according to the suspect, belongs to another Filipino woman he murdered named Arian Palanas Lozano, 28. Lozano was missing since July 2018. She was reported missing by her employer, a high-ranking police officer at the time.

An organization representing third country domestic workers has reported the disappearance of three Filipino women over the past two years with the police allegedly not taking any action.

Louis Koutroukides, the head of the Housemaids’ Association had reported Mary Rose’s disappearance to the police in May 2018.

He told reporters that he had contacted the police hotline 1460 and asked to talk to the Chief of Police, only to be told by responding officers to report the incident to a police station. When he went to the police station with a friend of Mary Rose, he was told that they could not accept their complaint because they were not relatives.

Koutroukides said the police asked him how old he was and when he said he was 70, he was asked: Why do you care about a Filipina?

Police sent them on their way saying that mother and daughter had probably left the country through the occupied area.

Koutroukides later wrote an open letter to Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, referring to the disappearance of three Filipino women over the past two years, making reference to the existence of a possible serial killer targeting Filipino women.

The letter was published in Politis newspaper in August last year.

Commenting on the murder of two Filipino women, Doros Polykarpou the head of immigrant support group KISA, told the Financial Mirror that although he would be cautious about attributing racist motives to the suspect, it would appear the culprit was targeting vulnerable members of the society.

The murderer’s motive, however, needs to be evaluated so that society draws its conclusions on how to deal with the killer, that is to evaluate the risks if at some point he is to be released back into society, said Polykarpou.

Vulnerable Women

He said that whether the killer was motivated by racist sentiments towards a certain group in society remains to be seen, however, society has made these people vulnerable.

Usually serial killers target vulnerable members of their society, which are not necessarily of a certain ethnic descent. Unfortunately, third country citizens in Cyprus are treated as second class citizens. They are faced with racist behaviour from people they meet on the streets, while also being faced with institutional racism when they go to report mishaps to the police or when they visit the public health care system which does not treat them equally.

The National Guard will also have to look into the suspect’s motives, said Polykarpou, so as to identify if we are dealing with a one-off case or whether there are more army officers inclined to follow the same path.

The army should seek advice on how to identify such people. Let us not forget that the suspect was promoted recently to captain and was given a medal for his services to the military, noted Polykarpou.

He said that the focus should not be concentrated on who is to blame, rather on solving the cases and bringing closure to the families of the victims.

However, the chief of police and the Minister of Justice need to assume their responsibilities and at least apologise. Police acted rather quickly, finding the culprit after the first body was found. It did so, however, using evidence presented to them a year ago.

There are also a number of Vietnamese women on the missing persons’ list. We know of 7 women from Vietnam who are missing. Vietnamese coming to Cyprus to work usually keep to themselves and their disappearance may have gone unreported, added Polykarpou.

Patrikios Pavlou, a lawyer following developments surrounding the disappearance and murders of women from third countries, told the Financial Mirror that the minister should resign not just because the police failed to do its duty, but because the minister himself had set the standard, when he called for the resignation of Justice Minister Kypros Chrysostomides back in 2008.

Chrysostomides was forced to resign over the escape of a convict serving life in state prison, after pressure from Nicolaou, who was an MP for the then main opposition party DISY.

The Financial Mirror also contacted the Honorary Consul for the Philippines in Nicosia, Shemaine Alonso Bushnell-Kyriakides, who said although authorities have been helpful in the majority of cases involving workers from the Philippines, the police failed to carry out its duty in the cases of the two murdered Filipinos.

We are saddened to hear of the recent murders. We had been in contact with the police since their friends and employers had reported to us that they were missing. In one of the cases, we had specifically asked the police to look into the phone records of the victim and for us to be granted access. This did not happen, said Kyriakides.

A woman with a child, leaving behind her personal belongings and passports, and just disappearing are red flags and the police should have acted on them. Like I said there was a child involved. They should have followed procedures and talked to her school, relatives, neighbours and sent out an amber alert, she added.

Source: The Financial Mirror