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Cyprus

Turkey Is Hungry for War With Cyprus

FOREIGNPOLICY.COM: When Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s finance minister and the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced on May 12 that his country would soon send a drill ship to exploit natural gas resources in an area widely considered to belong to Cyprus, it was tempting to write off the incident as just another harmless flare-up in the decadeslong territorial disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean. Periodically stoking tensions with Greece and Cyprus has always been a part of Turkish foreign-policy strategy.

This time is far more dangerous, however, because there are signs Turkey might be ready to escalate its confrontation beyond mere rhetoric. Albayrak’s announcement came a day before Turkey held Sea Wolf, its largest annual naval exercise in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Then, on May 15, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated the country’s intention to buy the S-400 missile system from Russia. And throughout this period, Turkish jets have been violating Greek airspace almost daily.

The S-400 purchase has been a source of tension on its own. The United States and NATO believe that the missile system, once plugged into Turkey’s radar network, will give Russian systems access to sensitive NATO data—potentially making it easier, for instance, for Moscow to detect the F-35s that Turkey has been looking to procure from the West. Turkey claims those concerns are overblown, but that hasn’t stopped Washington from threatening Ankara with removal from the F-35 purchasing program and further sanctions.

All this, again, could be seen simply as part of the generally problematic relationship between Turkey and the West following the events of the Gezi Park protests and the escalation of the war in Syria, when Erdogan began consolidating power at home almost six years ago. But recent local elections in Istanbul—in which Erdogan lost the city he considers his seat of power—have clearly spooked the once unshakeable strongman, causing him to overreach and force a rerun. This looks likely to backfire, with opposition parties withdrawing their candidates and throwing their support behind the Republican People’s Party’s Ekrem Imamoglu, who was the winner of the first round.

This comes amid an economy in decline, as reflected in the price of the Turkish lira, and grumbling about Erdogan inside his own party. The frosty reception the president got when he visited Turkey-aligned Northern Cyprus last year also didn’t help his standing at home.

These are developments that Erdogan was clearly not ready for. Turks may ultimately benefit from their autocratic president’s sudden weakening. But as far as international politics go, the effects are far more ambiguous. History suggests that leaders who are losing their grip on power have incentives to organize a show of strength and unite their base behind an imminent foreign threat. Erdogan has every reason to create hostilities with Greece—Turkey’s traditional adversary and Cyprus’s ally— to distract from his problems at home.

This wouldn’t come out of nowhere. Turkey has never allowed Cyprus to benefit from the natural gas reserves in its waters without some sort of confrontation. In that sense, Turkey’s strategy in the Aegean Sea has been consistent for many decades now: apply pressure, put forth demands, wait for a crisis, and then bring the other side to the table on your own terms. This is precisely what it’s trying to do in Cyprus right now. “What is developing before our eyes is a systematic strategy engineered by Turkey to bring into question the status quo in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean regions,” wrote Alexis Papachelas, one of Greece’s most senior and well-respected journalists, in his column on May 15. “All evidence points to a climax in tensions next autumn.”

It’s hard to say what the limits of the current confrontation might be. The present conditions make for a dangerous mix. Erdogan has steadily moved Turkey away from the Western institutions it belongs to (NATO) and the ones it once aspired to be a part of (the European Union) and closer to Russia as he attempts to portray himself as a regional leader in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Cyprus and Greece are both members in good standing of the EU. Indeed, Greece has moved closer to the United States and NATO than it has at any time in the past four decades. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has promoted stronger ties with both Israel and Egypt, Cyprus’s partners in its natural gas ventures.

Erdogan has rarely been so weak at home—or so aggressive with his neighbours in the Mediterranean.

Europe has an important role to play in deterring a conflict. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has expressed “great concern” over Turkey’s plans. “We call urgently on Turkey to show restraint, respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone and refrain from any such illegal action to which the EU will respond appropriately and in full solidarity with Cyprus,” she said last week, while in January, French President Emmanuel Macron had said that France supports Cyprus’ right to gas deposits off its coast, despite Turkey’s objections. The EU’s current approach to protecting its borders, however, is unlikely to be enough to deter Erdogan.

There are broader geopolitical stakes for Europe. In case of an escalation, including any sort of military conflict, wavering by Cyprus’s and Greece’s allies will invalidate the choices made by the two EU members to strengthen their ties with the West and create further doubt about NATO’s effectiveness.

None of this is to suggest that the EU has always handled Turkey and Erdogan as well as it could have, or that Greece, Cyprus, and Israel haven’t made decisions of their own that have raised tensions in the region. But those arguments are not relevant to the present situation. The road map Erdogan is following is of his own creation, as are the seeds of his troubles. In responding to his provocations, Europe must now take a levelheaded but firm approach, one that leaves no room for doubt that Cyprus and Greece have allies on their side. That will do more to dissuade an escalation than any attempt to appease a troubled Erdogan with concessions.

COMMENT

Cyprus is one the most vulnerable states in Europe, people live in constant fear of attack from Turkey, which takes pleasure in constantly intimidating a tiny island state. Whatever the reasons for the troubles back in 1974, neither side is completely innocent, but even though Turkey was allowed ti intervene, being one of the three protector states, after six months, that is legally occupation, which has been deemed illegal by international courts, yet nearly 50 years later, they are still there.

How did Europe deal with Turkey for its behaviour, both to Cypriots and to surrounding neighbours, who have suffered at their hands? (I won’t get in to that now as I will go off on a tangent) Europe, decided to make Turkey an associate member, this was championed by the recently unified Germany who was bankrupt at the time, allowing them to slowly undercut and steal the light industry from most of Southern Europe. Over the last decade especially, turkey has increasingly hinted at expansion, with many of its politicians calling for a number of Greek islands to be taken. They are also very unhappy with their EEZ which is dwarfed by the area that Greece and Cyprus have.

Unless something drastic is done to roll back this expansionist ideology, the problem will soon extend beyond Greece and Cyprus, who are unfortunate enough to border this aggressive nation.

Cyprus sex between minors decriminalised

New sources report that Cyprus has mad quiet, but drastic changes to the law on the age of consent and sex betwen miors….
THE LAW (translated from Greek)
1 . Criminal offenses under this Law do not constitute sexual offenses as defined in paragraphs (1) and (3) of Article 6 when they are consensual among children who have not reached the age of consensus (in Cyprus the age of 17 is set, while in other EU countries range from 14 to 16 years) and the age difference between the two children does not exceed three years and provided they have a similar degree of psychological and physical development or maturity.
2. Sexual activities as defined in paragraphs (1) and (3) of Article 8 for the production, acquisition or possession of pornographic material involving children who have reached the age of sexual consent shall not constitute a criminal offense under this Law if the production and possession of such material is carried out with the consent of such children and for their own use only by the children concerned insofar as the acts do not include any abuse or even violence or exploitation or even extortion ting.
3 . This article does not apply to the above cases if any of the children involved is under the age of 14 years.
4. The courts of the Republic shall be entitled to prosecute offenses provided for in this Act, namely offenses of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children as well as child pornography if they are perpetrated by a citizen of the Republic in any foreign country irrespective of the fact that they constitute or not criminal offenses at the place where they were committed.
Sex between minors no more than 3 years apart decriminalised
It is worth mentioning that the relevant harmonized legislation introduced for the first time the blocking of websites with child pornography material following a prosecutor’s order. Additionally, a new criminal offense was defined as a “pornographic performance” so that criminal prosecution could also be brought in cases of transmission of such material by mobile or skype.
Sex between a 15 year old and a 12 year old would not be against the law!
Marriage from the age of 17 years old 
During the elaboration of the above-mentioned law, the Legal Service considered necessary the amendment of the Marriage Law, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior, for the purpose of better transposition of article 8 of the relevant Directive, so as to prohibit marriage between a minor who is of the age of sexual consent an adult much larger than that. At the same time marriage will be permitted between persons who have reached the age of 17 or the age difference between the two does not exceed three years and have a similar degree of psychological and physical development or maturity.
COMMENT
I am still trying to verify these reports, but it is looking very likely that they are correct. That being the case, they are conspicuous by their absence from the media, is that by accident or by design I wonder? Many of these perverse laws are passed in disguise or they are sneaked through when nobody is looking.
I can honestly say, that I have always been against the Statutory Rape law for sex between a 16 year old boy and a 15 year old girl, they are in the same age bracket and someties what is little more than a few months difference in age, could destroy a young man’s future, and label him a sexual deviant, but……and this is a very consitional but, that DOES NOT mean that there should be an open invitation for minors to engage in sex. There is already far too much sexualisation of the young, and whie it may seem perfectly normal to many, due to the fact that it is now so ubiquitous, that does not make it acceptable.
The requirements to deal with the act of sex are not just physical, they are emotional and there is a reason that society has an age of consent, firstly because the young need protecting and secondly, because sadly there are numerous older people who would not hesitate to violate them, given the opportunity.
The change in law in Cyprus has not just focused on a close margin of age, whilst maintaining clear boundaries, they have ammended the law to decriminalise sex between minors who are no more than 3 years apart in age…..WITHOUTH A LOWER THRESHOLD, that means a 15 yeard old can have sex with a 12 year old and it is not an offence! REALLY?
They have also ammended the laws on pornography, but whilst purporting to be making the law tougher, they have in fact legalised the performing of porngrahy, by anyone 14 and over provided that it is carried out with their consent!
They have also applied the law on age of consent for marriage, allowing those with no more than a 3 year gap to marry, even though the age of consent is officially 17 and marriage at 16 is currently only permissable with parental consent(now there’s a disparity)
Once again, they have left a gap for two minors to marry, why would they do that?
This must be one of the most distressing abuses of morality by the morons who are in positions of power that I have seen for a long time.  Sex and children DO NOT go tother, never have, never will.

Cyprus: detention for confessed serial killer extended

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A Cypriot army captain who confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls will remain in custody after a court on Monday approved a police request to extend his detention for another eight days.

Investigators need more time to collect testimony and other evidence as authorities continue to search for the bodies of two of the victims, police investigator YIannis Georgadjis told the court.

The 35 year-old suspect, believed to be Cyprus’ first known serial killer, faces charges including premeditated murder and kidnapping in the slayings of three Filipino women and the daughter of one of them, a Romanian mother and daughter and a woman believed to be from Nepal.

The killings appear to have taken place over a period of 2 ½ years starting in September 2016 with the disappearance of 36-year-old Romanian Livia Florentina Bunea, and her 8-year-old daughter Elena Natalia.

Police are accused of failing to properly investigate initial missing persons’ reports that may have prevented the suspect from claiming more victims. Revelations of what the Cypriot president called “negligence” on the part of some police officers led to the justice minister’s resignation while the police chief was fired.

The suspect, who authorities haven’t formally identified, faces an additional charge of raping a woman he contacted through a social media platform. The woman, who was 19 in early 2017 when the alleged rape took place, told police the suspect had sex with her against her will in his car when he picked her up supposedly to give her modelling photographs he took of her.

The suspect is denying the rape allegation. Wearing a bulletproof vest, he represented himself in court on Monday and said he didn’t object to his detention.

The chance discovery of the bound body of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 38, from the Philippines, down an abandoned mineshaft triggered an investigation last month that led to the suspect’s arrest.

The suspect confessed to seven killings in a 10-page handwritten note and took investigators to where he dumped some of his victims.

They include a poisonous lake that is part of a disused copper mine where he said he disposed of the bodies of Bunea, her daughter and another Filipino woman after placing them in suitcases. Divers have so far retrieved two suitcases from the lake and are continuing to search for a third.

A separate search is being carried out at another lake where the suspect said he dumped the body of Tiburcio’s 6-year-old daughter Sierra Grace.

Investigators said the suspect, who is divorced and has two children, had a six-month relationship with Tiburcio before she and her daughter vanished in May 2018.

Court issues fresh remand against self-confessed serial killer

The Nicosia district court on  Monday issued a fresh remand order against 35-year-old suspected serial killer Nikos Metaxas to allow police to continue investigations into premeditated murder, kidnapping, and rape.

The 35-year-old, who appeared before the court once again without a lawyer, was escorted by members of the counter-terrorism unit.

Requesting a fresh remand order, lead investigator Ioannis Yiorkadjis outlined the progress of the continuing investigation into multiple crimes connected with the suspect, which involve the murder of seven victims and one rape charge.

So far, police have taken 450 statements and collected 355 pieces of evidence. Some 100 additional statements remain to be collected, Yiorkadjis said. Police have also found a third car belonging to the 35-year-old, which he used in 2016. Authorities have also tracked down where the suspect found the cement blocks used to weigh down the body-containing suitcases into the red lake in Mitsero.

Yiorkadjis added that police are continuing investigations into Metaxas’ phone data, as well as into the allegation of rape of a Filipino woman in 2017, which the 35-year-old denied. In a previous hearing, Yiorkadjis had told the court that Metaxas handed police a 10-page handwritten confession, outlining six murders, five women and one child aged eight. He denied killing a second child, six, claiming she had choked on her own vomit.

Five bodies have so far been found at three locations, including a mine shaft in Mitsero, a toxic red lake near the mine, and a firing range in Orounta. On May 5, the second out of the three bodies that Metaxas told police he dumped in the red lake in suitcases was found by search crews.

The UK-based Cypriot state pathologist Andreas Marnerides, who was among the five-member team of British experts who had assisted in the investigations earlier in the month, participated in the post-mortem that was conducted on the retrieved body along with two other local state pathologists on Monday.

The body is believed to be eight-year-old Elena Natalia, daughter of Livia Florentina, 36, from Romania, whose body is believed to be that retrieved from the red lake on April 28.

Tissue was taken for histopathological examinations at the time while the post mortem will be continued at a later stage, police said.

Search crews continued scouring the red lake on Monday for a third suitcase, believed to contain 30-year-old Marricar Valdez Arguiola from the Philippines. The search for the suitcase ended unsuccessfully on Sunday, reportedly due to the limited visibility in the waters of the red lake as a result of the waist-high mud.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, should search crews fail to locate the third suitcase on Monday, the search will continue with an additional diver, as only one has entered the lake so far.

The sonar technology is also expected to return to the USA on Tuesday, as it has already provided search crews with underwater scans of both the red lake and Memi lake in the Xyliatos reservoir area, where Metaxas told police he dumped the body of six-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, which has yet to be found.

Sierra is the daughter of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, from the Philippines, whose body was the first of Metaxas’ victims to be found on April 14 in the Mitsero mine shaft. Mother and daughter Sierra went missing last May.

Last week, fire chief Marcos Trangolas announced that should the current search strategy fail to locate the two remaining bodies, a ground penetrating radar will be employed.

COMMENT

“The 35-year-old, who appeared before the court once again without a lawyer, was escorted by members of the counter-terrorism unit.”

This is worrying, whether he wants a solicitor or not, they are gathering too much without adequate legal representation. I don’t think people realise how important that is, because they may be setting themselves up for a shock.

The importance of good legal representation for the accused is to ensure that the prosecution is forced to prove their case, bare in mind that the burden of proof lays with the prosecution. In this instance, he should have been assigned the BEST legal representation possible, not to get him off, but to ensure that every step of the way, the prosecution is forced to account for their case and that every shred of evidence is gathered in accordance with the law and presented in accordance of the law, to ensure a safe conviction.

If this is not done, there could be a terrible shock down the road in the ECHR and for those who think otherwise, confessions CAN be revoked, they CAN be discredited and they CAN be thrown out. I just hope that in their hast to cover up their incompetence and negligence, that they do not end up with an unsafe conviction and rest assured, that despite the overwhelming evidence that we believe that they have, anything is possible if the case is not watertight….and they are dealing with PSYCHOPATH, I still wonder, is he confessing or misleading? I’m still not convinced.

The real lessons to learn from the Cypriot serial killings

OVER the past two years, 22 women from the Philippines have gone missing in Cyprus. A 35-year-old man, Nicos Metaxas, has so far confessed to the killing seven missing women and children. Mary Rose (38) and Arian Palanas Lozano (28) were the first victims to be identified.

Locals were aghast at the news, expressing their shock that something like this could happen in a place like theirs. They emphasised how ‘close-knit’ the community is and how everyone knows and looks out for each other.

Professor Elizabeth Yardley and I argue that the reality is something altogether different. Whilst the perpetrator chose to end the lives of these women, social and cultural forces that continue to divide communities facilitated it.

Mary Rose went missing in May 2018. She and her daughter had gone to spend the night in Nicosia and were never seen again. They were thought to have simply left the island. The subsequent disappearance of Arian in July raised questions about the level of urgency in the police investigations. Had the police taken Mary’s disappearance more seriously, perhaps Arian’s death could have been prevented. Her case was classed as a non-police matter.

Cypriot police have announced that they expect to find more victims. As such, the alleged perpetrator has been labelled a serial killer – someone who kills three or more victims in separate incidents in a period greater than 30 days (Wilson, Yardley, Lynes, 2015). He hunted for victims online and strangled them as he sexually assaulted them. To him these women were objects, simply there for his own gratification, fulfilling his need for complete power and domination. He took photographs of the body disposal sites, mementoes (Miller, 2014) which enabled him to relive the events and continue to exert control over his victims after their deaths.

This killer devalued and demeaned Mary and Arian. But so did Cypriot society. These women have been described as ‘domestic workers’. That their relationship to the economy is the main criteria upon which they are defined is very revealing. They existed on the margins, fulfilling a role in Cypriot society without ever really being part of it. They were women in the shadows. Women who went unseen. Women who didn’t matter – until they became victims. It’s a tragedy that the ‘victim’ label carries more status than that of ‘domestic worker’ or ‘migrant’. But Mary and Arian were not just domestic workers. They were mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. Women with hopes, aspirations and plans.

One of us was born and raised in the south Mediterranean and believe that Cypriot society is in a state of interpretive denial (Cohen, 2001) about migrant domestic workers. They know these women are there, they see their vulnerability – but they respond in ways that justify not acting on what they see. This runs completely counter to the principles and spirit of south-east Mediterranean culture.

Xenios Zeus, the ancient Greek God of hospitality emphasised the importance of accommodating travellers. Hospitality is deeply rooted in our consciousness – a moral mandate. Xenios Zeus’s philosophy is still very much embraced, this part of the world, after all, is heavily reliant upon the tourist trade. It attracts travellers from Europe and the USA whose holidays are preceded by much daydreaming about the sandy beaches, blue seas and mouth-watering cuisine of the region. However, it seems that some travellers are more valuable – and valued – than others.

Tourists are welcomed with open arms as they burn through their holiday spending money in bars, restaurants and tavernas. They are warmly waved off at the end of their vacations, ‘Please come again next year’. Migrant domestic workers do not receive quite the same reception.  They live behind closed doors. A parallel population. Present and absent. Working in the basement of the economy. Taking on responsibilities without acquiring many rights.  There but unseen.

Interpretive denial is not a Cypriot thing.  It’s endemic across all neoliberal political economies of the world. We prioritise wealth and ‘liberty’ above all else, under the illusion that we are free to thrive and achieve success if only we are prepared to work hard enough. But the reality is that some are freer than others, some have more choices than others, some have more protection from harm.

As Wilson (2007) argues, serial killers target the vulnerable and the marginalised, those we don’t notice or choose not to see. It is no coincidence that sex workers, gay men, elderly people and young people who have run away – or been pushed away – from home are among the groups targeted most often by perpetrators. In these cases, it is the victim rather than the offender who becomes the other.

Much discussion has focused upon the alleged racism of the Cypriot police. However, this is merely a symptom of an underlying disease. If the police did not provide the service that Mary and Arian deserved simply because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin then this must be investigated and those involved held accountable. However, actions can only grow from values and beliefs. When we judge people, when we see ourselves as above them, when we don’t embrace them into our culture, when they are separate from ‘the rest of us’ they become vulnerable to the worst kinds of harm. For as long as we continue to other them, women like Mary and Arian will continue to be preyed upon and this will not be the last case of its kind that we will see. It will simply be the tip of an iceberg.

By Lucas Danos and Elizabeth Yardley – The Cyprus Mail

Lucas Danos and Professor Elizabeth Yardley are Birmingham City University Criminologists

COMMENT

I actually agree with the opinion of the writers, this has not just uncovered a form of institutional and cultural prejudice and  discrimination. As the writers have stated, this is just the tip of the iceberg and runs very deep, it is one of the reasons that the island was divided and remains divided, yet nothing has been done to change attitudes withing Cypriots of different ethnic backgrounds, let alone migrant workers.

Cyprus may have joined the EU, but it is only European in name, culturally, it still has a long way to go.

Cyprus’ new police chief apologizes over serial killer case

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus’ new police chief has apologized to the families of seven foreign women and girls who an army captain has confessed to killing. Kypros Michailides said at a ceremony Tuesday to mark his appointment that he offered the apology because police had failed to protect the victims.

He said those who failed will be held accountable.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades fired Michaelides’ predecessor over the “negligence” of some officers. Police have been accused of failing to properly investigate initial missing persons’ reports.

Divers are continuing with a search of a body the suspect says he dumped in a toxic lake. On Sunday, search crews found a small suitcase that authorities believe contained the remains of an eight year-old girl.

 

COMMENT

It is about time that that official took responsibility for what may well be the greatest act of negligence since the Mari explosion. These women were reported missing and nobody did a thing!

Who were they reported to? Who decided to ignore the report of the missing women? Why have it taken such a tragedy to highlight the incompetence of the Cypriot Police force?

Police find body in Cyprus lake, tie rape to serial killings

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Police in Cyprus recovered a second suitcase containing human remains Sunday from a contaminated lake where a military officer who confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls told authorities he dumped the bodies of three victims.

The lake is part of an abandoned copper pyrite mine where a woman’s body was found by chance last month in a flooded shaft, setting off an investigation that police say led to the island nation’s first known serial killer.

The 35-year-old army captain told investigators he killed five women and two girls, and disposed of three bodies — those of a Filipino woman and a Romanian mother and daughter — in the man-made lake. A suitcase with the remains of a woman was found at the bottom a week ago.

Several hundred people gathered at the site Sunday to light candles and lay flowers in memory of the two first victims, both of whom were from the Philippines. Some wept as tributes to the two victims were read.

A coroner will examine the remains found Sunday to try to identify the victim, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said. Divers are scouring the lake bottom with a sophisticated sonar device for another suitcase, Fire Service Chief Marcos Trangolas said.

The search for bodies and evidence started weeks ago in a case that has shocked the eastern Mediterranean island nation, brought allegations of police negligence, and cost the country’s justice minister and the police chief their jobs.

Police have been accused of failing to properly investigate when a victim was reported missing 2½ years ago, allowing the suspect to keep killing. Several of the women were reported as missing to police.

Earlier Sunday, Criminal Investigation Department Chief Neophytos Shailos told a court in Nicosia that the suspect allegedly raped a woman in early 2017 after he picked her up in his car, saying he wanted to give her the photographs he took. Shailos said the suspect recorded video on his cellphone.

The woman, a 19-year-old foreign citizen, called the suspect’s wife at the time and told her what had happened, Shailos said. He did not elaborate on what the suspect’s wife did with that information. The couple, who have two children, are now divorced.

Shailos said investigators are trying to secure additional testimony from a female friend of the alleged victim, who has since left the island. He did not state her nationality.

The court on Sunday extended the suspect’s detention for another eight days. He has not been named because he has not yet been charged in what authorities are calling the most horrifying multiple-slayings case that Cyprus has seen.

The suspect, who represented himself in court Sunday and wore a bulletproof vest, said he had no objections to the detention renewal.

Investigators have been speaking with everyone the suspect had contacted online since 2016, when the alleged first victims vanished: Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, from Romania; and her 8-year-old daughter, Elena Natalia Bunea.

Only two of the victims have so far been positively identified; 38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio and Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, both from the Philippines. Their bodies were discovered in an abandoned mineshaft last month six days apart.

Authorities are also looking for the body of Tiburcio’s 6-year-old daughter Sierra in another reservoir. The decomposed remains of a woman who is believed to be Ashita Khadka Bista, from Nepal, were found at the bottom of a pit in a military firing range after the suspect led investigators there.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who on Saturday called the suspect a “serial killer,” last week apologized to diplomats of the countries of the victims and vowed to bolster protections for foreign workers in Cyprus.

Critics claim the police in Cyprus did not put much energy into the missing persons reports because the victims were low-paid foreign workers.

Missed chances to stop serial killer scrutinised in Cyprus

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — It’s more than the grizzly body count that’s numbed people on the small east Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus.

The country may have experienced mass killings decades ago during inter-ethnic conflict, but the self-confessed crimes of a military officer are something new for the island of around 1 million people.

The army captain told authorities over several days last month that he killed five foreign women and two of their daughters. Police have found bodies in a flooded mineshaft, the abandoned mine’s toxic lake and a pit at a military firing range.

The officer is widely acknowledged to be Cyprus’ first serial killer. Authorities haven’t named him publicly.

Questions about police ineptitude or indifference possibly allowing the suspect to keep killing for about 2 ½ years after the first victim was reported missing have been part of the painful fallout.

At a second vigil for the seven slaying victims outside the presidential palace in Nicosia on Friday, participants also expressed concerns that racism and economic inequality were other factors; many women from the Philippines work as housekeepers in Cyprus, and four of the victims were Filipino.

“I mean, if it would be a Cypriot woman missing for so long, they would definitely do something,” Katarzyna Kyrlitsias, who is from Poland and married to a Cypriot citizen, said. “But because we’re foreigners, they think nobody would find them, nobody would look for them.”

Residents, immigrant rights activists and government officials say they want to know if and exactly how police failures contributed to killings instead of preventing them.

Yiota Papadopoulou, whose husband is a prominent Cypriot politician, said she asked in October 2016 for help learning the whereabouts of a Romanian woman and her child after the pair vanished.

A police officer told her authorities had good reason to believe 36-year-old Livia Florentina Bunea took her 8-year-old daughter to the ethnically divided nation’s breakaway Turkish Cypriot north, Papadopoulou said.

“I believe that maybe, some other women could have been saved,” she told public broadcaster RIK.

It was only the chance discovery of 38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio’s bound body down the mineshaft on April 14 that sparked a full investigation. Authorities detained the suspect soon after tracking the dead woman’s online message exchanges with the army captain.

The head of the Cyprus Domestic Workers’ Association, Louis Koutroukides, has recounted that when he reported Tiburcio missing last year, a police officer said he was “too old to concern himself with Filipino women.”

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has promised the government would scrupulously investigate both the “abhorrent murders” and the “actions or failures” of police in following up on missing person cases.

Anastasiades fired Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou on Friday for what he said was “possible negligence” in carrying out swift and thorough investigations that could have saved lives.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, who resigned Thursday, also spoke of “possible mistakes” by law enforcement. He also alluded to darker “attitudes and perceptions” pervading society “that honor no one.”

Cyprus has a Filipino community of about 14,000 that experiences discrimination and exploitation, according to civil rights advocate Lissa Jataas. Four of the people the suspect said he killed, including Tiburcio and her 6-year-old daughter, were Filipino.

A noticeable number of Filipino immigrants earn 400 euros ($450) per month working long hours as housekeepers for employers who hold their passports and work permits.

“We’re very vulnerable to abuse and harassment at work because our workplace is our home as well,” Jataas said, adding that many workers keep complaints to themselves for fear of being deported.

Ester Beatty, chair of the Federation of Filipino Organizations in Cyprus, said she hopes the killings “serve as a wake-up call to those nasty employers” to adhere to European employment standards.

It’s a view shared by others at Friday’s protest vigil. Guarab Nepal said he feels as if people from Asian countries are ignored in Cyprus

“The government should respect the people who came here to work,” he said.

Even the police’s most ardent supporters concede that the investigation of the initial missing persons’ reports were insufficient. Police Support Association head Neophytos Papamiltiadous acknowledged a lack of proper oversight by those officers’ immediate superiors.

However, Papamiltiadous rejected the notion that racism was a major factor, noting that foreign workers do cross into the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north without notifying authorities.

Divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece, Cyprus’ northern third is an unrecognized entity and Cypriot police have no jurisdiction there. The legal vacuum affords those who want to disappear a way out.

But Papamiltiadous said that’s certainly no excuse for lackadaisical police work.

With no real voice, it is easy for some police officers to ignore foreign worker complaints or missing person reports if they’re under no pressure to do so, said Stefanos Spaneas, a professor of social work at the University of Nicosia.

Spaneas said in his experience with working with migrants and refugees it’s less a matter of police racism than one of “stupidity” within a disorganized force made up of officers earning low pay.

Kyrlitsias, the Polish woman with a Cypriot spouse who attended the vigil outside the palace, said the killings have changed how she feels in Cyprus regardless of what comes out of the serial killer investigation.

“Cyprus is a nice country and actually is very safe,” she said. “But what happened now, it’s very difficult to feel safe because you never know who will text you.”

Archbishop’s Easter message condemned

Northern Cyprus’ ‘foreign ministry’ on Monday lambasted Archbishop Chrysostomos for his ‘racist’ remarks when he admonished Greek Cypriots for crossing to the north to shop and to fly using Ercan (Tymbou) airport.

In his Easter message, which might have been expected to be one of unity and concord coming from a church figure, Chrysostomos instead censured those Greek Cypriots who go to the north “not to visit churches and the graves of their ancestors, but to transact with the occupation, for fun, and to use the illegal airport.”

The archbishop stopped short of calling these Greek Cypriots traitors.

Reacting via a statement, the north’s ‘foreign ministry’ said such commentary smacks of “a mediaeval approach and mentality.”

It urged the Greek Cypriot ‘administration’ to condemn remarks that tend to increase mistrust.

The statement went on to express grief that the archbishop’s references “indicate clearly that there has not been the slightest improvement in the racist and primitive stance of the church.”

In reality, the statement added, traffic and trade between the two communities are precisely what will serve to boost relations and cooperation, as well as economic interdependence, which is what Cyprus needs.

Other than his commentary on politics, Chrysostomos also railed against what he sees as degenerate mores. He cited the introduction of legislation on abortions, gender choice and the cohabitation of same sex-persons.

“It is obvious that these laws aim at destroying not only the religious but also the national component of our people,” the prelate said.

On social media, Chrysostomos took flak for his views, as well as for the fact he omitted to make any mention of the number one issue on people’s minds these days – the Mitsero mine murders.

COMMENT

We MUST separate the politics from the people. I’m not getting in to who did what, because NOBODY is innocent, even those born after 1974 who refuse to hold out an Olive branch to their fellow Cypriots, are just as bad if not worse.

The Ledra street area of Nicosia has burst in to life since 2003, with a constant flow BOTH WAYS, money flowing BOTH WAYS, but I do not hear anyone walking around Ledra street protesting outside any shop that sells to those crossing from the other side to shop and trust me, spending happens both ways.

With regard to the politics, what has been learned from the past? On an official level….NOTHING! All we hear is complaints about Turkish flags and the Turkish army, but what have our leaders done to demonstrate their wish for a unified Cypriot state? Plaster every building with Greek flags! This is an insult to anyone who is truly proud to be Cypriot.

What nation building steps has the ROC taken, to create a unified Cypriot state?

If we accept the notion that anyone with a Cypriot grandfather is Cypriot, whether they were born here or not (the official criteria to be obligated for national service or to apply for citizenship) then we must also accept that the number or Cypriots Nationals, including those eligible, living outside of Cyprus, is great than the number actually living here, with the vast majority by far living in English speaking countries, with children whose first language is English. Yet what did the ROC do to acknowledge those people? They actually REMOVED English as an official language, making them second class citizens.

Why are there no secular, English speaking state schools in every town, to encourage children of all backgrounds to learn, grow and bond together? Not a chance, so how do they expect people who have been raised in parallel societies to ever unite? There must be interaction, trade, nation building and sports if we are to create a nation out of the ashes that have been left by the sick fanatics who destroyed Cyprus and STILL insist on blaming everyone else for it! I have also noticed that those who seem to be the most hostile, don’t even live here!

Whilst I do not agree with the way that Turkey is exploiting the situation, has anyone considered that many Cypriots living under Turkish occupation feel exactly the same? Personally, I know many who do. Even so, we must try to tentatively interact on many different levels and that means people from both sides crossing, I doubt very much that stopping to get a coffee or something to eat is something we should be stressing about and certainly, it is nothing to do with the Church.

The sooner Cyprus becomes a secular state, with bigoted hypocrites like this Ogre and his band of merry men, gagged  and BANNED from commenting on anything political the better. I do not see him encouraging humanity, charity, education and respect…………..If he wants to cast aspersions, then he should start with the President who was actually defending the criminals of EOKA b’ or that same person who sanctioned the plundering of people’s bank accounts, or the endless list of corrupt officials……need I go on?

Migrant workers not respected in Cyprus

It’s Tuesday 30th April 2019, a friend of mine was driving through Limassol, when a car came flying out of nowhere and hit a migrant worker on a scooter,  she had sent him flying.

He landed in the middle of the road, my friend ran over to check him out and he said he could not feel his legs. She called 911 and requested Police and Ambulance, but in the meantime, a passing police car stopped. The officers got out and their response?

“It looks like you can speak English and you can communicate with him, so carry on!”

Really? Who is actually supposed to be trained in CPR? In the meantime, the Police officer just stepped back and went back to his vape, when a worker from a kiosk offered a bottle of water. The Police officer said. “yes, give him some water if he wants” to which my friend said “NO! He could be injured internally and it could choke him”

The ambulance took 25 minutes to arrive, even though the hospital is about 3 minutes away!

Cyprus is experiencing the unfolding of its first serial killer, someone who actually prayed on immigrants, women who were reported as missing to the police but NOTHING was done to look in to it. Whilst they may not have prevented the death of the first, or second, or third, the figure is up to SEVEN  so far, maybe, just maybe, the last one or two could have been saved, but the Police suffer from institutional apathy, arrogance and lack of respect for anyone who is not Cypriot.

I would call it racism, but it is not even about race, the minute any victim is revealed to be anything other than Cypriot, they just don’t care, even with Cypriots, they only make an effort when it is someone who they feel matters, be they influential, related or otherwise connected.

It is now time for the police to shaken up and forced to perform their duty, not just collect fines for misdemeanours! 

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