News Local Mitsero murders: 'Tragic errors' in police's handling of missing persons

Mitsero murders: ‘Tragic errors’ in police’s handling of missing persons

A criminal investigation has reached damning conclusions into how police officers handled cases of missing women and children later found to have been murdered by convicted serial killer Nicos Metaxas, Phileleftheros reported on Friday.

Metaxas is currently serving seven life sentences after pleading guilty to the gruesome murder of five women and two children over a period of two years. Several of the victims had been reported missing by friends or relatives who said police had failed to properly follow up on their concerns – leaving Metaxas to continue to prey on unsuspecting victims.

Amid a public outcry that at least some of the victims may be alive today had police done their job, a criminal inquiry was ordered. Former police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou was sacked and former Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou resigned, while police revised procedures in searching for people reported missing.

The report of the four member panel has been completed and is due to be delivered, probably today, Phileleftheros said.

Citing sources, the newspaper said that the findings are damning for a number of police officers who either failed to thoroughly investigate the missing persons’ complaint or failed to do even the bare minimum.

The 350 page report assigns responsibility to about 20 police officers of different ranks, mostly serving with CID, who handled the complaints.

The paper says responsibility is apportioned to

  • Front line police officers who undertook to examine the complaints of missing people
  • The heads of the departments where they were serving (CID)
  • The officers supervising the investigations

The probe by the four criminal investigators also shows tragic mistakes in investigating the complaints of missing women, since in some cases they did not even check whether their mobile phones were in operation while in one case, it took three months from the day the missing person report was filed to when police actually took a statement from their immediate environment.

The findings – based on more than 200 statements from police officers and relatives of the victims —  are to be given to the president of the Independent Police Complaints Commission Andreas Paschalides.

Paschalides will then submit his own comments to the Commission which will send the report and the comments to the attorney general to decide whether disciplinary and/or criminal offences have been committed.

A final decision on whether charges will be brought and against who, rests with the attorney general.

The seven victims are Marie Rose Turbicio Infante and her daughter Siera Graze Seucaliuc from the Philippines, Livia Bunea and her daughter Elena Bunea from Romania,  Maricar Valdez Arquiola from the Philippines, Arian Palanas Lozano from the Philippines and Asmita Khadka Bista from Nepal.

Their bodies were found in four different locations — an abandoned mine shaft,  a firing range and two lakes.

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