Cyprus Mail

Law Office’s approach to missing women files was based on police conclusions

The police had never sought a court order to access any phone records during the investigation of three cases of women who went missing and later turned up dead, murdered by a serial killer, the state Law Office  said on Friday.

In a statement responding to a report by Politis newspaper that suggested the service knew of the disappearances but did not seek a court order allowing access to phone records, the service said it had given the “appropriate” instructions based on the reports police had submitted.

It stressed that according to the Cypriot legal system, all investigations into the commission of crimes are undertaken by the police, which submits a report to the Legal Service with its findings. The service then decides whether a case can be taken to court.

The statement said police had sent the files of three cases, all concerning missing women who have since turned out to be murdered, two along with their children.

“In none of the three instances was the Legal Service asked for a legal opinion or to file a motion in court during the investigations.”

The first case file, which apparently referred to Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, who is believed be the first victim of alleged serial killer Nicos Metaxas, along with her eight-year-old daughter, Elena Natalia, was submitted by police on March 21, 2017, with the recommendation to archive as a case that was not of a police nature “it is highly possible they are residing at an unknown address in the occupied areas.” The woman and her child were reported missing on October 3, 2016.

“In light of this, and considering no other reasonable suspicion emerged from the investigation, instructions were given by the Legal Service for the case to be archived without ceasing efforts to find the missing persons.”

The second case, two years later, on January 18, 2019, concerned Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, and her six-year-old daughter Sierra, who were reported missing in May 2018. Tiburcio was found dead in a mine shaft on April 14 this year, while her daughter is still missing, presumed dead.

The police recommendation at the time was to catalogue the case in the event something additional emerged later. The service agreed.

The third case file referred to 30-year-old Maricar Valdez Arquila from the Philippines, who has not been found yet but is presumed dead, who had been reported missing on December 15, 2017.

The Legal Service said it had received the police report of the investigation on February 22, 2019, with the recommendation to archive as case that was not of a police nature.

“In all the above cases, there was no question of the Legal Service providing any interim instructions since they were not requested, nor is its role to guide the investigation,” the statement said.

It added that there was no issue of accessing phone records at the time the cases were brought before it given that there was no reasonable suspicion about the commission of any offences.

“In any case, according to the law, phone records cannot be kept longer than six months.”

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