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20 May, 2024
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Cypriot state forensic pathologists under scrutiny after double murder

Expert Marios Matsakis says government actions are counterproductive to criminal investigations


Private forensic pathologist Marios Matsakis, who represents the victims’ family in the Strovolos double murder case, is questioning whether Cyprus has a reliable state forensic pathology department.

Matsakis, who spoke on state radio on Monday, called on the authorities to say whether or not they have confidence in Cypriot forensic pathologists and medical examiners.

“I call on the attorney general and the ministers of Justice and Health to say whether they believe Cyprus has a reliable state forensic pathology department,” Matsakis said.

The private pathologist raised the issue after Greek forensics professor Chara Speliopoulou was called in by the government to perform a second autopsy in the Strovolos double murder case, where a 60-year-old beloved school teacher and his wife, a central banker aged 59, were found savagely stabbed to death in the bedroom of their own house Thursday early morning in Strovolos, Nicosia.

Matsakis said he did not have any issue with Speliopoulou conducting a second autopsy, both carrying out a crime scene investigation and postmortem medical exam.

“There are important cases being tried in court where Cypriot medical examiners testify"

But he complained that he was not granted access to observe either the first or the second autopsy, adding that Speliopoulou examined the crime scene and bodies three days after the discovery and such a delay was counterproductive in the ongoing investigation.

“There are important cases being tried in court where Cypriot medical examiners testify,” Matsakis said, wondering out loud how reliable can they be if the state prosecutor does not trust them.

Two autopsies in Strovolos case

The first autopsy was conducted by state forensic pathologist Eleni Antoniou on Thursday, which lasted for six hours according to media reports. The injuries were said to be consistent with wounds caused by someone who might feel hate towards the victim.

The results showed that the man was stabbed between 25 and 30 times in the chest, puncturing his heart and lungs and going into hemorrhagic shock. The woman was stabbed 10 times in the neck, with knife wounds aimed at the carotid artery and jugular vein, also sending the victim into hemorrhagic shock.

The results of the second autopsy were to be discussed in a private meeting among investigators on Monday.

The teenage son of the murdered couple was scheduled to give a deposition, but authorities have not gone through with the process yet in order to make sure the boy could be mentally prepared. Sources say that investigators are also waiting on lab results and DNA evidence.

Attorney general says investigation goes forward

Attorney General Costas Clerides said Monday that the investigation was moving forward.

“We were briefed on the investigative process thus far, and it will continue at an accelerated pace,” Clerides told CNA.

The attorney general also said investigators will need to evaluate all the information they have before they can decide when the boy can give a written statement to police. 

Reliability of medical examiners in question

This is not the first time that forensic pathology reports were either disputed in public or proved to be incomplete.

In February, an initial autopsy on the body of a Bulgarian woman in Paphos suggested she sustained multiple injuries possibly caused by farming equipment. But subsequent medical exams, conducted by Speliopoulou, pointed to dog bites confirming tips to police investigators that two Rottweiler dogs from the area might have mauled the victim to death.

In 2016, KISA, a human rights NGO, also raised questions after Antoniou had conducted an autopsy on an Egyptian man’s body, who had been shot dead by a Swat team in Oroklini, Larnaca district, during a hostage situation involving the man and his infant baby.

KISA had expressed concern over what it described as lack of information surrounding the circumstances of the man’s death and has since challenged some of the findings.

Cyprus  |  crime  |  Strovolos  |  KISA  |  Oroklini  |  forensic  |  autopsy  |  police  |  murder

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