By Peter Stevenson
A 77-YEAR-OLD Nicosia butcher was stabbed 35 times in a frenzied knife attack inside the walk-in freezer in his Aglandjia shop in the early hours of yesterday.
Georgios Stavrou was found alive by a neighbour at around 6am but died in the ambulance on the way to the Nicosia General Hospital. Police believe the attack happened one or two hours earlier at the entrance to the freezer as the blood from the victims was concentrated there.
According to state pathologist, Eleni Antoniou, the 77-year-old had 35 stab wounds to his head and throat area and his stomach area. At least one of the wounds was defensive, she said. The victim did not have any wounds on his back, indicating the attack was face to face, Antoniou said.
Investigators believe it had started out as a robbery as a bag with around €1,000 was missing. The victim had €150 in his pocket, which wasn’t taken. Neither was a small amount of cash in the till.
Police also said however that the number of stab wounds could indicate the attack was personal on some level, a “hate crime”, they said.
The neighbour who discovered Stavrou in the freezer had initially thought the butcher had had an accident and it was only when he was examined by doctors it was established that he had been stabbed multiple times.
The doctors informed the police who went to the shop but by then the butcher’s son, also believing at the time that his father had had an accident, had cleaned up the blood and with it, much of the evidence.
After initial investigations, police said they believed the assailant or assailants may had been watching the victim for some time to determine his working habits and struck at an early hour to ensure there would be no witnesses as the shop is located on a main road in Aglandjia. They believe the attacker or attackers knew Stavrou carried a bag with a large amount of money in it.
Police are still unsure whether the assailant used his own knife or one from the shop. They took all of the butcher’s knives from the premises for forensic testing.
It was reported last night that an arrest warrant had been issued for a Pakistani man 27, who had visited the hospital’s first aid department yesterday morning and asked to be treated for injuries to his fingers, which doctors said had been caused by a knife. However the man had left the hospital before it was established that a murder had taken place.