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Society

Cyprus Police Chief Fired over Serial Killer Case

May 3, 2019

NICOSIA – As more grisly details emerged over the murder of five foreign women and two children by a confessed serial killer,  Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades fired Police Chief  Zacharias Chrysostomou after complaints the department did not take seriously missing persons reports of some of the victims.

Anastasiades said the head of any organization must take responsibility for the actions of subordinates after reports that officers dismissed reports some of the women were missing, saying it was likely they had returned to their own countries or to the Turkish-occupied northern third of the island.

Anastasiades said that negligence may have led to the Nicos Metaxas, 35, a National Guard Captain, being able to keep preying on more women and added to the death toll, with some f the women reported missing for several years.

The case didn’t unfold until the discovery of one of the victims in a mineshaft that led police to find computer evidence they had hooked up with Metaxas through an online dating service, leading investigators to a toxic red lake where he said he stuffed the victims into suitcases and threw them in, while tossing the 6-year-old daughter of another into a reservoir.

Metaxas told investigators he disposed of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mineshaft, a poisonous lake and a pit at a military firing range in a case that has hit headlines in newspapers and web sites around the world.

The firing of  Chrysostomou came after Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou resigned as cries grew over the police department failures and lapses in investigating missing persons report of a number of foreign women. He said it was a matter of “conscience and principle” for him to quit even though he said he wasn’t responsible for what had occurred.

He said a key reason that led to his resignation was that those investigative gaps concern not only the police but also society’s “attitudes and perceptions that honor none of us.”

Metaxas reportedly grabbed the women from behind, put them in a chokehold and strangled them to death although there were conflicting reports about the autopsies and the role five forensic experts brought in from the United Kingdom, Kathimerini Cyprus said.

Amid the shock, protesters have accused police of failing properly to investigate the victims’ disappearances because of their migrant backgrounds, the BBC said in a detailed report on the sensational case.

THE DEAD

Mary Rose Tiburcio, Arian Palanas Lozano and Maricar Valtez Arquiola were all domestic workers from the Philippines. Also among the victims were a woman of Indian or Nepalese descent, a Romanian woman named locally as Livia Bunea, her young daughter Elena and Tiburcio’s daughter, Sierra, 6.

The case has exposed an exploitative system that allows tens of thousands of migrant women to work as housemaids in conditions that critics have described as akin to modern slavery, the report said, putting the foreign women at risk of sexual abuse too.

“The killings are a wake-up call,” Lissa Jatass, a domestic worker who campaigns for the rights of migrant women in Cyprus told the BBC. “Housemaids here suffer with this bad system. Women here are the least represented in society,” she said.

Ester Beatty of the Philippines Organisation in Cyprus said women came to work in Cyprus because it was part of the European Union and they felt “a bit more relaxed”. Their contracts require their employers to provide them with free food and accommodation.

But she said many of the them complain they are being paid below the minimum of 400 euros ($447.22) a month and that many are working 12-14 hours a day with little or no time off, no holidays and fearful of complaining.

The Cyprus government said if contracts are violated a “rigorous procedure has been established” to deal with a complaint. It “continuously strengthens its efforts for improving the working conditions of all non-EU national workers,” the government claimed in a statement to the BBC.

 

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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