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29 May, 2023
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Investigators puzzled over Athienou case

DNA sent abroad to help identify body with crushed skull, sex trafficking not ruled out


Officials in Cyprus still remain in the dark over the identification of a woman whose body was discovered in a field in the buffer zone, with reports saying investigators are seeking answers from abroad based on a tip that led to the launch of a murder probe.

According to local media, law enforcement officials are focusing on Ukraine, where investigators sent a DNA profile to determine whether a female body dug up in the buffer zone last week belonged to a Caucasian woman from that country.

The woman, who was in her late 30’s, is believed to have been murdered last year in Nicosia but her exact identity and circumstances of her demise remained unknown. Three male suspects, an Egyptian national and two Syrians, are in custody facing premeditated or conspiracy charges, which they have reportedly denied.

Reports also suggested the victim had been living and working in Cyprus for a number of years, with local media saying she was a waitress at a local pub. Her last entry into the Republic of Cyprus was recorded in 2018, according to local reports.

Officials are examining whether the woman might have been a sex trafficking victim, after a local TV anchor revealed information that police had not ruled out that scenario

Police say they got information from an individual who alerted them to the body, saying it was dug up by a farmer with his tractor in the UN buffer zone, near Athienou, Larnaca district. The farmer later told media he had not realized anything because it was dark but he then contacted an acquaintance, a male officer, who then alerted authorities.

Local media said the body was previously hidden in another location in Nicosia before it was moved to Athienou allegedly by the suspects in custody, with investigators carrying out interrogations with the three men. Police say they have camera footage showing some of the suspects in the vicinity where the body had been dumped in a sewer near the southern entrance of the capital.

But investigators have not so far revealed the identity of the individual who gave the initial tip, with local media speculating a relative of the victim may have contacted police the night before police rushed to the scene early in the morning.

Investigators are also puzzled over the fact that the woman in question was never reported to authorities as a missing person. Reports said officials have asked Ukrainian authorities to run her DNA profile through their database while Interpol may also get involved, police said.

Local media also reported that officials were examining whether the woman might have been a sex trafficking victim, after a local TV anchor revealed information that police had not ruled out that scenario.

According to leaked reports, forensic examiners have failed to reach conclusions and positive identification on the mummified body, following at least two autopsies on the body.

But police say they have evidence pointing to a possible identity of the woman, whose body was found inside plastic bags with a crushed skull.

Cyprus  |  Nicosia  |  Larnaca  |  Athienou  |  murder  |  sex trafficking  |  Egypt  |  Syria  |  forensic  |  DNA  |  Ukraine

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