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Cypriot police search for more victims of suspected serial killer

Cypriot police search for more victims of suspected serial killer
Police secure the area where the body of a woman was discovered near the village of Orounta, Cyprus, April 25, 2019. REUTERS/Stefanos Kouratzis -
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STEFANOS KOURATZIS(Reuters)
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NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cypriot police searched on Friday for more victims of a suspected serial killer, in a case which has shocked the Mediterranean island and exposed the authorities to charges of "criminal indifference" because the dead women were foreigners.

The main opposition party, the left-wing AKEL, called for the resignation of Cyprus's justice minister and police chief.

Police were combing three different locations west of the capital Nicosia for victims of the suspected killer, a 35-year-old army officer who has been in detention for a week.

The bodies of three women, including two thought to be from the Philippines, have been recovered. Police sources said the suspect had indicated the location of the third body, found on Thursday, and had said the person was "either Indian or Nepali".

Police said they were searching for a further four people, including two children, based on the suspect's testimony.

"These women came here to earn a living, to help their families. They lived away from their families. And the earth swallowed them, nobody was interested," AKEL lawmaker Irene Charalambides told Reuters.

"This killer will be judged by the court but the other big question is the criminal indifference shown by the others when the reports first surfaced. I believe, as does my party, that the justice minister and the police chief should resign. They are irrevocably exposed."

Police have said they will investigate any perceived shortcomings in their handling of the case.

One person who did attempt to alert the authorities over the disappearances, a 70-year-old Cypriot citizen, said his motives were questioned by police.

The bodies of the two Filipino women reported missing in May and August 2018 were found in an abandoned mine shaft this month. Police discovered the body of the third woman at an army firing range about 14 km (9 miles) from the mine shaft.

Police are now searching for the six-year-old daughter of the first victim found, a Romanian mother who disappeared with her eight-year-old child in 2016, and a woman from the Phillipines who vanished in Dec. 2017.

The suspect has not been publicly named, in line with Cypriot legal practice.

A public vigil for the missing was planned later on Friday.

(Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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