A woman holds a banner that shows seven impersonal face in memory of the seven victims outside of the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, May 3, 2019. Hundreds of people turned out in front of Cyprus' presidential palace to remember the five foreign women and 2 girls that a military officer has confessed to killing. The officer is widely acknowledged to be Cyprus' first serial killer.(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

Cyprus serial killer suspect accused of raping other woman

May 05, 2019 - 5:47 am

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A man who has confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls in Cyprus is being investigated on additional charges of raping a foreign woman he had photographed as a model, a police investigator said Sunday.

The comments in court by Criminal Investigation Department Chief Neophytos Shailos were the latest development in a case that has shocked the eastern Mediterranean island nation, cost both the justice minister and the police chief their jobs that led to strong criticism of negligence. Police have been accused of failing to properly investigate initial missing persons reports that could have saved the lives of later victims.

Shailos told a court in Nicosia on Sunday that the suspect had raped the woman in his car on the outskirts of the capital in early 2017 when he picked her up to supposedly give her the photographs. He said the 35-year-old army captain had videoed the alleged rape on his cellphone.

The woman, a 19-year-old foreign citizen, had called the suspect's wife at the time and told her what had happened, he said. He did not elaborate on what the suspect's wife did with that information. The two, who have two children, are now divorced.

Shailos said investigators are trying to secure additional testimony from a female friend of the alleged victim, who has since left the island. He did not state her nationality.

The court on Sunday extended the suspect's detention for another eight days. He has not been named because he has not yet been charged in what authorities are calling the most horrifying multiple-slayings case that Cyprus has seen.

The suspect, who represented himself in court Sunday and wore a bullet-proof vest, said he had no objections to the detention renewal.

Investigators have been speaking with everyone the suspect had contacted online since 2016, when the alleged first victims, Romanian Livia Florentina Bunea and her eight-year-old daughter Elena Natalia, vanished. The suspect has admitted to killing both and placing their bodies in suitcases, which he said the dumped in a toxic lake west of the capital.

Last week authorities pulled a suitcase containing the decomposed remains of an adult woman from the lake. Search crews are now using sophisticated sonar equipment to scan the bottom of the lake for two more suitcases. The suspect said he also disposed of the body of Maricar Valtez Arquiola, 31, from the Philippines, into the lake.

Only two of the victims have so far been positively identified; 38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio and Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, both from the Philippines. Their bodies were discovered in an abandoned mineshaft last month six days apart.

Authorities are also looking for the body of Tiburcio's six year-old daughter Sierra in another reservoir.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who on Saturday called the suspect a "serial killer," last week apologized to diplomats of the countries of the victims and vowed to bolster protections for foreign workers in Cyprus.

Critics claim the police in Cyprus did not put much energy into the missing persons reports because the victims were low-paid foreign workers.

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