Cyprus Mail

Suitcase retrieved from red lake contains woman’s body (Update 3)

Photo: CNA

Authorities on Sunday brought up one of two suitcases they had pinpointed in the red lake at Mitsero. It contained the body of an adult women, police said.

One of the two suitcases located on Saturday by a robotic camera was retrieved at around 2pm. The suitcase was taken to the morgue but not before police confirmed it contained the body of an adult woman,  Nicosia CID chief Neophytos Shailos told reporters at the scene. He said the body was in an advanced stage of decomposition.

“The suitcase contained the body of an adult woman and a cement block,” he said, adding that examinations would continue at the morgue to establish the identity of the woman. He said the operation would continue to bring up the second suitcase located but probably not until first-thing Monday.

The search will also continue to locate a third suitcase using the robotic camera.

The suspect in the case, Nicos Metaxas, 35, an army officer, gave the police a 10-page handwritten confession that contains details of seven victims, the court heard on Saturday where he was remanded for another eight days.

According to that, he dumped three of the victims in the red lake in suitcases, 30-year-old Maricar Valdez Arquila from the Philippines who disappeared in December 2017, and a mother and daughter from Romania, named as Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, and Elena Natalia Bunea, 8 who went missing on September 30, 2016.

On Sunday, the crime scene had been set up early for a forensic examination of the suitcases once they were brought up. Ambulances were also in the area.

The robotic camera was sent back into the lake earlier in the day to pinpoint the spots where the suitcases were located, followed by a boat with divers around noon but after being out there around an hour, the boat returned to shore where the next steps were being discussed as reportedly there might be some difficulties in retrieving the bags without damaging them or losing evidence. The spots were marked with buoys. The boat went back  into the lake around 1.30pm and brought up the first suitcase at around 2pm “after a long and painstaking efforts”, Shailos said.

Metaxas reportedly was taken to the lake by authorities on Saturday and he allegedly pointed to the areas where he threw the cases. Two were located by the robotic camera on Saturday and the operation to retrieve them started on Sunday morning.

Politis showed photos taken in 2017 from the lake by an amateur photographer that depict a large suitcase on the shore of the lake but heavy rains this year had submerged the area where the photo was taken. There was also a video posted on YouTube about the lake, filmed by a woman named Sarah Funk where at one point a clip shows a suitcase bobbing in the water near to shore.

Four of seven possible bodies have now been found. The search will go on  for the other two, and at the Xyliatos lake for a six-year-old. On Saturday something was found in the lake “that was out of place there”, reports said. Some said it was a piece of skin and it was taken for analysis to see if it was human.

The murder victims include Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, from the Philippines, whose body was found by police in a shaft at the Mitsero mine on April 14, Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, from the Philippines, whose body is believed to be that found in the same shaft on 20 April, though this has not been officially confirmed yet; and a third body thought to belong to a Nepalese  woman was found at a firing range at Orounta on Thursday afternoon.

The court heard that it could be a woman named Asmita Khadka Bista from Nepal who used the online name Kata Anou and had been in contact with ‘Orestis’  – the persona used by the alleged killer – last year on social media site Badoo, where two of the victims also reportedly met their killer. Her traces were lost in early 2018 after she was seen getting into a white car. Her friends had told the Nepalese Consulate she was missing, but not police.

Police are still searching for three bodies after Sunday’s discovery.  These are the six-year-old daughter of Tiburcio, Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, Maricar, Livia Florentina, and Elena Natalia. The remains of either Livia or Maricar was likely in the first suitcase retrieved on Sunday.

Tiburcio’s body was found on April 14 in a mine shaft in nearby Mitsero. Hers was the first murder investigated. Mother and daughter Sierra went missing last May.

A week later search crews retrieved another body from the same shaft, thought to be of Lozano, who disappeared in July 2018 but a post-mortem was unable to definitively identify her.

A team of British experts are due in Cyprus on Monday to assist in the investigation.

Reports have also emerged that the authorities in the north were also launching an investigation in to the murder of foreign women as Politis said, the suspect appeared to have crossed often. The paper said they were focusing on the murder of the 40-year-old Vietnamese Dam Thi Hop , who disappeared in October 2017, and whose body was found near Tymbou (Ercan) airport in January 2019. Details of the crime have been passed to the bicommunal committee on crime and criminal matters.


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