Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou tendered his resignation on Thursday over criticism aimed at the police for failing to investigate cases of foreign missing women, some of whom were murdered.
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Nicolaou said the fallout of the gruesome murders goes beyond the police and involves 'social attitudes and a mentality that reflect poorly on all of us'
Nicolaou, who met with President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday, told reporters after the meeting that he was stepping down as a matter of political conscience but described criticism against the government and him personally as “totally unfair.”
He also said he had no involvement into how missing cases were handled by police, clarifying that the minister ought not to be involved in such matters.
Citics have been calling for the justice minister and the police chief to step down since late April, following the discovery of murdered women in the Mitseros serial killer case and allegations against police officers for failing to take reports of missing foreign women seriously.
President Anastasiades accepted the resignation and said the minister would be stepping down in the coming days, adding that he asked Nicolaou to stay on until he could submit all government-sponsored justice reform bills to the Cabinet.
Nicolaou said the fallout of the gruesome murders did not only involve the police but also society at large, referring to “social attitudes and a mentality that reflect poorly on all of us.”
Outgoing minister calls for independent probe
The minister said he planned to send a letter on Thursday, asking the Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints Against the Police to assign a special investigator or a team of investigators to look into these issues.
“The probe has to be independent, thorough, and objective,” the minister said, whose last official day in office has not been announced yet.
Two internal probes carried out by the police internal affairs unit have been ordered, one last week by Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou, and a second inquiry on Thursday, according to police spokesperson Andreas Angelides.
The police chief is also expected to meet with the president on Friday.