Cyprus authorities are in the hot seat after state pathologists failed to agree on what caused the death of a woman, who was found fatally injured in a field in Yeroskipou, Paphos last month.
The victim, 46-year-old Petruna Nikolova from Bulgaria, arrived in Cyprus in mid-February in search of a job, according to media reports.
She died days later, on February 22, inside an ambulance on the way to the hospital after succumbing to her injuries.
An initial autopsy suggested that Nikolova sustained multiple injuries possibly caused by farming equipment. But subsequent forensic exams pointed to dog bites with police investigators receiving a tip that two Rottweiler dogs from the area might have mauled the victim to death.
Father and son in custody
Following the second autopsy, authorities discovered a blood stain inside the canine cage, which DNA test later verified that it belonged to Nikolova.
The owner of the two dogs, a local 27-year-old man, is in custody along with his 54-year-old father who owns the land where several dogs are kept in a cage. Forensic evidence made public so far points to the possibility that Nikolova was brutally attacked by two canines.
Police are trying to gain access to telephone records and feel confident they can get a renewal of the remand of the two suspects.
A rifle belonging to the dad is also being sought. Police say they have received an oral testimony, based on which the witness saw the two dogs attacking the victim and then the canines run back to the area where their cage is located. Things have been made more complicated when police could not locate the two Rottweilers, despite the witness account suggesting they were both killed and buried.
Fifth autopsy expected to clear the mess
A fifth autopsy is expected to take place later this week or early next week. Greek forensics professor Hara Speliotopoulou, from the University of Athens, is on her way to the island.
She has worked with state authorities in Cyprus in the past on very serious cases.
‘We are the mother of covering things up,’ Economou told the Cyprus News Agency
It is not clear whether Nikolova had suffered any other types of injuries anywhere else on her body, but authorities hope to get to the bottom of this in the coming days.
Talks of a possible cover up
In the meantime, Vasos Economou, the ethics committee head of the Cyprus Medical Association (CMA), had very harsh words of criticism towards state pathologists and said Cyprus has been exposed globally and suffered irreparable damage.
Economou expressed concern that the real reasons behind Nikolova’s death will be swept under the carpet.
‘We are the mother of covering things up,” he told the Cyprus News Agency, adding that all parties involved including CMA, police, and the attorney general’s office will have to address the problem.