Cyprus Mail

Police association say missing persons cases were hindered by data restrictions (Updated)

The police association on Thursday rebuffed criticism over its members’ handling of a missing person’s case, which ended up being murder, possibly the work of a serial killer, blaming legal restrictions that prohibited disclosure of phone data.

Defending its members against scathing criticism suggesting they did close to nothing to determine the fate of the Filipino women who went missing and at least two were now dead, the chairman of the association, Kyriacos Charalambous, said officers were working hard to resolve the case, sleeping only three to four hours each night.

Charalambous said accusations against them were unsubstantiated and unfounded, blaming the limitations imposed by the law for their failures.

“They are accused of not acting immediately and now we see probes ordered against them despite doing their jobs in line with the law,” Charalambous said.

He said lifting phone data was not allowed in cases concerning missing persons since at the time, there was no question of investigating an offence punishable with more than five years in jail, which would allow the force to seek a court order.

Charalambous said the force had asked parliament twice to approve legislation to give their members the weapons but the suggestion was rejected.

“As we all saw the results were immediate when a body was found and officers could lift the communications data through court,” he said.

He said people should not seek to pin the blame on people who, as it was proven, did their duty effectively and professionally.

The association’s statement prompted renewed outrage against the force, whose chief on Wednesday appointed a three-member panel to probe potential omissions in investigating the disappearance of the women when they were reported missing.

The Cyprus Mail has also learned that at least in the case of one of the women, Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, who was reported missing along with her daughter Sierra, 6, police could have secured a court order for her phone records as there was a possibility of kidnapping.

Tiburcio and Sierra were reported missing in May 2018 and the woman’s estranged partner did not know where they were.

In fact, police found his daughter’s passport at his home after Tiburcio was found dead in a mine shaft about two weeks ago. Tiburcio’s passport was found at her home. Her daughter is still missing, presumed dead.

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