Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou says all questions raised in the handling of the Filipina murders will be scrutinized, adding that investigators are now focusing on building a solid case that can stand up in court.
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Chrysostomou held a brief conference on Monday morning in response to criticism that police dropped the ball in their investigations of missing women from the Philippines, two of whom have been found murdered a year after their disappearance with a search of a young child still ongoing and at least two other women also feared dead.
The chief told reporters that the cases must be and will be investigated in a particularly meticulous and systematic manner in accordance with the law, in order to have a proper outcome when presented in court.
“This is the least we owe to the victims and their families, to whom we express our deepest and sincere condolences,” Chrysostomou said.
Police came under heavy criticism after it emerged that a friend of the first victim, 38-year-old Marry Rose Tiburcio, was reportedly not taken seriously last year when she told cops about a person of interest, who turned out to be the suspect and confessed killer of Marry Rose.
'We ask for your understanding as our top priority at this moment is to establish all the facts and the true extent of the crimes'
The 35-year-old man, who serves in the military and is an amateur photographer, told cops after his arrest that he killed another FIlipino woman, 28-year-old Αrian Palanas Lozano, who was a housemad at a former deputy chief of police. Both women's bodies were found naked and bound at an old abandoned mine in Mitseros, Nicosia district. Authorities believe there could be corpses of more femalle victims in the area.
Marry Rose's friend, a Filipina national who helped investigators crack the case wide open more than a week ago by identifying the body of the victim, had turned to housemaid advocate and HMA president Louis Koutroukides three months into the investigation, saying he was her “last hope” in finding out what had happened to Marry Rose and her daughter, 6-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc.
Koutroukides says he immediately went to the police in August 2018 but was told off, with an officer suggesting mother and child had left the country. But the explanation did not sit well with the next of kin, who knew Marry Rose did not take any belongings or passports before she went to meet the suspect.
Chrysostomou said police are determined to examine these issues but also focus on conducting a thorough investigation in order to establish all the facts.
“We neither underestimate nor disregard the questions raised. On the contrary, we understand the abhorrence and feeling of anxiety that these cases have caused in Cypriot society.”
“We have every intention to fully investigate the questions raised, with transparency and honesty, and if any issues are identified then corrective measures will be taken including internal action,” he said.
“In this stage, we ask for your understanding as our top priority at this moment is to establish all the facts and the true extent of the crimes, including solving and prosecuting them, and we will do our best to achieve that,” Chrysostomou said.
At least two other females are feared dead in addition to Marry Rose’s child, who alternatively could have been sold to traffickers according to speculation offered by Koutroukides.