Cyprus ‘serial killer’ appears in court, accused of rape

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A boat equipped with a sonar system sails on the acidic Red Lake near the village of Mitsero, southwest of the capital Nicosia, during the search for possible bodies of victims of a suspected serial killer, on May 4, 2019. (AFP)
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A boat equipped with a sonar system is seen in Kokkinopezoula lake, also known as “red lake,” is seen during the search for possible bodies of victims of a suspected serial killer near the village of Mitsero, Cyprus, May 4, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 05 May 2019
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Cyprus ‘serial killer’ appears in court, accused of rape

NICOSIA: A Cypriot army officer who has allegedly confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls over nearly three years appeared in court Sunday, where police accused him of raping a teenager.
Captain Nicos Metaxas, 35, has not yet been formally charged over the murders — dubbed the Mediterranean island’s ‘first serial killings’, which have unleashed anger against what the president described as police “negligence.”
At the hearing on Sunday the suspect — first arrested on April 18 — was remanded in custody for a further eight days.
Neophytos Shailos, head of Nicosia’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), told the Nicosia district court a Filipino woman, 19, came forward to file a complaint that Metaxas raped her.
The police chief told the court that the suspect denied the allegation when questioned about it.
Shailos testified that the young woman said she made contact with the army officer online in 2016 when she replied to a modelling job for a photoshoot.
Metaxas appeared in court without a lawyer and told the judge he had “no objections” to being remanded.
Police said they were receiving a “deluge of information” about the suspect’s activities with 350 witness statements taken and another 150 to be processed.
The killings came to light in mid-April when unusually heavy rains brought the body of 38-year-old Filipino Mary Rose Tiburcio to the surface of the disused mine shaft where it had been hidden.
That triggered a murder investigation which led to Metaxas being detained.
Days later, authorities found the body of a second woman in the shaft, believed to be Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, also from the Philippines.
These are the only two women to be officially identified.
The suspect then guided investigators to a well near an army firing range outside the capital, where police found the body of a third victim — a woman thought to be from Nepal.
Police subsequently recovered the remains of a fourth victim, stuffed in a suitcase at the bottom of a toxic man-made lake next to a disused mine southwest of the capital Nicosia.
Cypriot authorities have been accused of failing to properly investigate the women’s disappearances due to neglect and racism.
President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday fired top police officer Zacharias Chrysostomou a day after Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou announced his resignation over the case.
Authorities have acknowledged that all the women and girls that the army officer has admitted to killing were reported missing to police, except the one from Nepal who was reported to immigration for being absent from her place of employment.


Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

Updated 20 July 2019
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Monsoon flooding death toll rises to 152 in South Asia

  • At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week
  • South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season

GAUHATI, India: The death toll in monsoon flooding in South Asia has risen to 152 as millions of people and animals continue to face the brunt in three countries, officials said Saturday.
At least 90 people have died in Nepal and 50 in northeastern India’s Assam state over the past week. A dozen have been killed in Bangladesh.
Shiv Kumar, a government official in Assam, said 10 rare one-horned rhinos have died in Kaziranga National Park since the Brahmaputra River burst its banks, flooding the reserve.
Some 4.8 million people spread over 3,700 villages across the state are still affected by the floods, though the frequency of rains has decreased in the past 24 hours, the Assam Disaster Response Authority said. More than 2.5 million have also been hit by flooding in India’s Bihar state.
Amid the flooding, 20-year-old Imrana Khatoon delivered her first baby on a boat in floodwaters early Friday while on her way to a hospital in Assam’s flooded Gagalmari village, locals said. The woman and the newborn were brought back to their home without getting to the hospital.
Community health worker Parag Jyoti Das, who visited the family, said there were no post-delivery health complications. However, the mother and the child were moved to a hospital on a boat to the nearby town of Jhargaon because of unhygienic conditions due to floodwaters, Das said. The health center in Khatoon’s village was flooded and closed.
“I would have felt happier if the baby’s father was here,” said Khatoon, whose husband works in a hotel in the southern state of Kerala.
More than 147,000 people have taken shelter in 755 government-run camps across Assam, officials said.
Authorities warned they would take action against suppliers who were reported to be distributing poor quality rice and other essentials to marooned people and inmates of temporary shelters at some places.
“We have ordered the arrest of those unscrupulous elements supplying substandard materials and playing with the lives of the affected people,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam’s finance minister.
In Nepal, the Home Ministry said about 36,728 families were affected by the monsoon rains. The flooding and mudslides forced some 13,000 families to flee their homes.
In at least two of Nepal’s districts, helicopters were used to transport emergency food supplies, while other transport means were being used to move tents and other supplies to the victims.
South Asia’s monsoon rains, which hit the region from June to September, are crucial for the rain-fed crops planted during the season.