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MPs rubbish police claims their hands were tied in missing persons cases

MPs on Thursday rubbished police claims that their failure to investigate missing person reports that ended up being murders was because the law prohibited them from accessing the victims’ phone data.

The House legal affairs and human rights committees will next Thursday be briefed by the police about the procedures followed when investigating a missing persons report after it emerged that the force apparently did next to nothing when people reported foreign women missing.

Days after it had transpired that a number of women from the missing list had been murdered, police sought to blame the law prohibiting access to phone records for such cases.

Legal affairs committee chairman, Disy MP Giorgos Georgiou said if there are any gaps in the law, they were not an excuse for the police to blame when investigating a missing person report.

Georgiou said current legislation affords the authorities the capability of accessing phone records in missing persons cases if there are facts and findings that lead to the possibility of the commission of a criminal offence.

The MP said phone records could be accessed when a cursory investigation led to a suspect, and in the cases in question, to possible abductions.

In at least one of the cases, involving the disappearance of a 39-year-old Filipino Mary Rose Tiburcio and her daughter Sierra, 6, police could have sought a court order arguing that the child could have been the victim of abduction since the estranged father had no idea of their whereabouts.

The woman had also left her passport behind, as well as that of the child’s, which could have raised suspicion of foul play.

Diko MP Panicos Leonidou said the people who handled the matters bore huge responsibility.

On one hand there was the victims’ tragic fate and on the other there was no doubt there were huge shortcomings and this arises from the indifference and neglect displayed by specific individuals while they had all the tools.

The legislation was there and they could have sought the orders from the attorney-general but they did not, he said.



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