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Cyprus

No need to suspend the 15 officers in missing women debacle, police watchdog says

The independent police watchdog has not determined the need at any point to recommend the suspension of 15 officers who face prosecution in over the way they handled the disappearance of several foreign women who eventually turned out to be the victims of a serial killer, its head said on Thursday.

Andreas Paschalides said for an officer to be suspended there must be certain reasons and conditions.

He said an officer would be suspended and removed from his position when there is a risk of them influencing the investigation.

The criminal investigators who looked into the case have finished their work and there was no question of the officers being suspended at this point.

“The authority that assumed investigation of the case, taking statements and conducting interrogations, did not determine the need at any stage of the probe to suggest they be suspended,” he added.

He noted that the investigators carried out their work without obstacles, stressing that the officers involved had not tried to influence or cover up any evidence.

Police chief Kypros Michaelides said on Wednesday he supported the 15, including constables, sergeants, and officers, citing the presumption of innocence.

The police officers involved in the case will remain in their current positions on the presumption of innocence, Michaelides said, “and as a leadership we must stand by them”.

The officers face a single charge relating to failure to perform their duties.

Paschalides said the charging process has started. The process is independent of any disciplinary process the force may launch.

The 35-year-old army officer, Nicos Metaxas, killed five women and two children over a period of two years.

The killings emerged in April 2019, after the body of one of the women was found in a mine shaft at Mitsero.

By June last year, police had recovered the remainder of the victims at the mine, in a nearby lake, in a field near a firing range, and at another lake some kilometres away.

Police were heavily criticised for allegedly mishandling the cases when they were reported missing by friends and families, and not treating the disappearances seriously.

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