The homicide trial in the death of Petruna Milchova Nikolova, who was found fatally injured in a field in Yeroskipou back in February, has been pushed back to next year due to the defence attorney’s absence abroad.
Nikolova’s death, which has come to be known as the ‘Yeroskipou dog mauling case’ shocked the public when the victim, a 46-year-old Bulgarian national, was found fatally injured in a rural field in Yeroskipou days after arriving to Cyprus in search of a job.
An initial autopsy suggested that Nikolova sustained multiple injuries possibly caused by farming equipment. But officials in subsequent forensic exams pointed to dog bites after police investigators received a tip that two Rottweiler dogs from the area might have mauled the victim to death.
Following a second autopsy, authorities discovered a blood stain inside a canine cage nearby, which DNA tests later verified that it belonged to Nikolova.
Police said at the time they had received an oral testimony, based on which the witness saw two dogs attacking the victim and then the canines running back to the area where their cage was located. But things were made more complicated when police could not locate the two Rotties in question, despite the witness account suggesting they were both killed and buried.
Defendant denies homicide charges
The defendant, a 27-year-old owner of five dogs including Rottweilers, is facing charges including homicide and manslaughter. Forensic evidence in the case points to Nikolova brutally being attacked by the two canines. A rifle, reportedly belonging to the defendant’s 54-year-old father who was arrested and later released, was also being sought in the case, while investigators said phone records were a target of investigators as well.
The defendant denies all charges relating to homicide and involuntary manslaughter, while he pleaded guilty to charges in connection with animal code violations.
He has been out a €100,000 bail and surrendered his passport and identification documents. The defendant is also required to report to a police station every day while his dogs, despite not belonging to a dangerous breed, must wear a dog mouthpiece and remain on leash, according to the bail terms.
An unprecedented total of five autopsies were ordered in the case, with the final post mortem being assigned to Greek forensics professor Hara Speliotopoulou, from the University of Athens, who had been called to weigh in on a number of other high profile cases on the island, including the Strovolos double murder.
The criminal trial is set to resume on 8 February 2019 at 9am, while the court found the reasons for the postponement to be legitimate and valid.
Talks of a possible cover up
The ethics committee head of the Cyprus Medical Association (CMA), Vasos Economou, had very harsh words of criticism towards state pathologists, following the initial stages of the investigation in the case.
Economou expressed concern back in March that the real reasons behind Nikolova’s death would be swept under the rug.
‘We are the mother of covering things up,” he told the Cyprus News Agency, adding that all parties involved including CMA, police, and the attorney general’s office will have to address the problem.