A Larnaca man who shot and killed his pregnant sister last year has been found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, with reports saying prosecutors did not seek murder charges due to lack of witnesses coming forward.
Local media said 23-year-old Elias Harpas from Larnaca was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the death of his younger sister Maria Harpa back in May 2020.
Maria, who was two months pregnant, was in her family home in Klavdia, Larnaca district, when she was shot in the head by her brother, an army reservist who initially told police there was a malfunction while he cleaning his G3 military rifle.
Additional media reports painted a troubling picture of the family with members having heated arguments prior to the shooting incident, including reports that police had gone to the house two months earlier to remove two hunting rifles that were registered to the Harpas’ father.
Maria’s death came around the time of her birthday as well as talk of an engagement, with unconfirmed reports saying she had said yes to a marriage proposal one day before she was killed
Maria was reportedly two months pregnant when she died on the last day before she was about to move in with her fiancé, according to local media. Media reports suggested there was friction in the family in the months leading up to the shooting.
Prosecutors ended up charging Harpas with voluntary manslaughter based on the reckless discharge of a firearm, after reports said investigators told the state attorney there was no sufficient evidence to prosecute a murder case.
Reports said Maria was shot in the head with a single bullet while sitting in her living room very early in the morning.
Initial reports in the case said the mother was in the living room with her daughter and son and had reportedly told investigators she had seen her son cleaning his gun that day. She said she left the room and went to the kitchen at the exact moment when the gun went off, according to local reports.
Distraught mother refused to testify against son
Legal experts said the mother's testimony would have been pivotal in the trial, as she was reportedly the only other person in the house at the time of the shooting.
Harpas never admitted intentional homicide or theft charges, denying further that he had stolen bullets from the army, but he pleaded guilty to malicious mischief charges. Reports said he told police he cut the brake lines in his sister’s vehicle on the day of the incident, adding that he believed Maria was responsible for letting the air out of his tires.
Maria’s death came around the time of her birthday as well as talk of an engagement, with unconfirmed reports saying she had said yes to a marriage proposal one day before she was killed.
Due to measures taken in courts during lockdown measures, information regarding the case was initially difficult to verify independently. Later on clarification from law enforcement over some issues was also hard to come by with police citing policy over potential privacy issues.
Police have maintained all along that any confiscations of hunting rifles in Larnaca district earlier that year were not connected to the brother.
Sentencing will take place at a later date while the defence attorney is scheduled to address the court on July 8 for consideration of any mitigating circumstances. The convicted killer could be facing a long prison sentence for the unlawful death of his sister.