1st LD Writethru: Cypriot justice minister resigns amid uproar over missing women investigation

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-02 19:46:36|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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NICOSIA, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus' Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou resigned his post on Thursday amid an uproar over the alleged failure by the police to effectively investigate the disappearance of several foreign women who fell victims to a self-confessed serial killer.

Nicolaou announced his resignation after a two-hour meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, saying it was accepted by the president.

Up to now, the bodies of four women were found in a flooded mine shaft, an acid red lake formed by rainwater which filled an old mine and in a dried well near a firing range.

Specialized teams are still seeking for the body of a fifth woman and the remains of two girls aged six and eight, who are the daughters of two of the women.

An army captain aged 35 has been placed in custody by a court pending investigations into Cyprus' first ever serial killer case.

He is claimed to have started his killing spree in September, 2016, by strangling to death a 38-year old woman from Romania and her eight-year old autistic daughter. Three women from the Philippines and one from Nepal were his next victims, with the latest killing in August, 2018.

"I informed the president of the republic that I am resigning for reasons of political sensitivity, though I was not part of the investigations and had never been informed by the police about the missing women case," Nicolaou told reporters.

President Anastasiades said in a written statement that he accepted with regret the resignation of a close associated who had performed a great job in reforming the justice system, the prisons' system and also reform work in other sectors outside his ministry.

Nicolaou has been asked to stay one for a few days to submit a set of bills on the reform of the courts which are currently being retouched by the Legal Service.

As European Parliament elections are coming, the Cypriot government had come under fierce criticism, following claims that the police had failed to look deep into the cases of several women, when they were reported missing and later confirmed to be among the killers victims.

The chief of police, who is also under pressure to resign, has appointed a three-member committee to investigate shortcomings in the process of investigation into missing people.

Parliament is also set to start a debate with a view of introducing a more effective and quick system of investigating the disappearance of people, particularly women and children.