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

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.


US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000

Updated 28 May 2020

US coronavirus death toll tops 100,000

  • Nearly 1.7 million infections have been tallied nationwide

WASHINGTON:: The United States has now recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths, Johns Hopkins University reported Wednesday — a somber milestone and by far the highest total in the world.
The country reported its first death about three months ago. Since then, nearly 1.7 million infections have been tallied nationwide, according to the Baltimore-based school.
The actual number of deaths and infections is believed to be higher, experts say.
In the last 24 hours, the death toll was on the rise once again, with 1,401 deaths added, after three straight days of tolls under 700. The full death toll stood at 100,396.
The state of New York has seen nearly a third of all coronavirus-related deaths in the United States, where President Donald Trump ordered that flags fly at half-staff last weekend to honor the victims.
The first US virus death was reported on February 26, though officials now say they believe that others may have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, before that.
The country passed the 50,000-death threshold barely more than a month ago.
The number of deaths per capita in the United States is nevertheless lower than in several European countries, including Britain, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain.
Despite the grim toll, most US states are now moving toward ending the strict stay-at-home measures that were implemented to curb the spread of the virus.
President Donald Trump, who is running for reelection in November, is eager to stem the economic pain of the lockdown, which has left tens of millions of Americans without jobs.