Embattled police, under fire over their botched handling of missing women, have received heart warming praise from the daughter of an 80 year old Russian woman who went missing from her home in Peyia on Thursday evening and was found three days later after a police search operation.
“I am the daughter of the 80-year-old Russian woman who was recently found by the police after being lost for three days,” she said in a letter sent to the chief of police and the press.
“I am writing to thank the Cyprus police, through you, from the bottom of my heart for the way they handled my mother’s disappearance from the first moment it was reported to them at 9.30 pm on 9th May. The immediate reaction of the Peyia Police Station was as if their own mother had gone missing,” Natalia Zakharova added.
After driving around for hours looking for her in the dark without any luck, the next day they began again at first light. Eventually a new shift took over with an inspector in charge, who personally organised and supervised the search. In the end dozens of police officers and Civil Defence people got involved, including search dogs, she said.
A police helicopter arrived in the afternoon of May 10 to coordinate with the search dogs, but with no results. The following day, the police returned with even more reinforcements and spread out in all directions and the police helicopter reappeared to search further out than the previous day, she added.
“Eventually the police helicopter found her in the most outrageously unlikely place, using its thermal imaging camera. Even though my husband and I had stupidly done our best to convince the police that it was improbable for her to be there, where she was eventually found,” said Zakharova, who is a permanent resident of Peyia.
“My mother informs me from her hospital bed, that she decided to go to the top of a hill to see the view from there. Even though she has a heart condition and cannot normally walk very far. And even though when she left for her walk, I had asked her to stay only around our complex. So, thank you Cyprus police. Thank you for your efficiency, your professionalism, your prompt response, but most of all, thank you for your compassion and for your humanity,” she concluded.
Police are still reeling from criticism over the way they handled the disappearance of five women and two children who a self-confessed serial killer currently in police custody has admitted to killing. Five bodies have been recovered and the search continues for two more.
The case has not only stunned public opinion but led to the resignation of Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou and the sacking of the chief of police Zacharias Chrsysostomou while an inquiry is currently under way.
Kypros Michaelides has taken over as new police chief, but President Nicos Anastasiades has still to name a replacement for Nicolaou.