Anger grows over killings of Pinays

NICOSIA — Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday sacked the country’s police chief, as shock over the murders of seven foreign women and girls gave way to outrage at the authorities for a botched response.

A suspect identified in local media as 35-year-old Greek Cypriot army officer Nicos Metaxas has confessed to the seven killings in a crime spree that went undetected for nearly three years.

With the island reeling from what have been dubbed its first “serial killings”, Cypriot authorities have been accused of failing to properly investigate the women’s disappearances due to neglect and racism.

The president on Friday fired top police officer Zacharias Chrysostomou a day after Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou announced his resignation over the case.

In a letter to Chrysostomou seen by AFP, Anastasiades decried “the apparent negligence and dereliction of duty of the police in investigating reports of missing persons”.

The president told the police chief his services were being “terminated” and that official failings had meant the murder cases were not “solved in a timely manner”.

“Some of the horrific crimes that shocked Cyprus could have been prevented,” he wrote.

The killings came to light in mid-April when unusually heavy rains brought the body of 38-year-old Filipina Mary Rose Tiburcio to the surface of the disused mine shaft where it had been hidden.

With Amanda Mouawad