Cyprus serial killer handed seven life sentences for murders of women and girls

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Nicos Metaxas killed his victims between September 2016 and August 2018.

A Greek Cypriot army captain was sentenced to seven life imprisonment terms after pleading guilty to killing five women and two children in a three-year murder spree, during which he preyed on his victims online.

Key points:

  • Nicos Metaxas preyed on foreign women for almost three years without detection
  • His sentence is the toughest ever imposed in Cyprus
  • Police were accused of not taking the disappearances seriously because the women were foreign

The serial killings triggered outrage and horror on an island where serious crime is relatively rare. It has also forced the resignation of the justice minister and sacking of the police chief.

Nicos Metaxas, 35, pleaded guilty to 12 charges relating to the premeditated murder and abduction of the seven — who came from the Philippines, Romania and Nepal — between September 2016 and July 2018.

The two children, aged six and eight, were the daughters of two of the women.

The sentence passed down by the Assizes criminal court is the toughest ever imposed by the Cypriot justice system.

In handing down the sentence, the three-judge panel said that Metaxas appeared to have mounted a “campaign of murder” in choosing defenceless women, most of whom came to Cyprus looking for work.

A group of men wearing face masks and gloves carry a black body bag on a plastic stretcher on the rocky edge of a lake.

The first victim was found dead by tourists taking pictures in late April, unravelling the macabre killing spree.

Prosecutors said two Greek Cypriots and three foreign nationals chanced upon the bound and decomposing body of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 38, from the Philippines, down a flooded mineshaft that was part of an abandoned copper mine.

Four days later, the body of 28-year-old Arian Palanas Lozano, also from the Philippines was pulled out of the mineshaft.

Metaxas had also stashed the remains of three other victims in suitcases, which he had thrown into a toxic lake that was part of the same abandoned mine.

The skeletal remains of another were found down a dry well inside an army firing range.

The last victim discovered, the six-year-old child, was found in another lake wrapped in a sheet and weighed down by a rock on July 1.

‘I have committed abhorrent crimes’

A picture of seven faceless women and girls with black hair and the word "why?" written in red.

Metaxas was taken under heavy security on Monday (local time) to a courthouse in the capital Nicosia wearing a bullet-proof vest, and appeared without a lawyer.

He broke down in tears as police read the indictment against him.

“I have committed abhorrent crimes,” he said, expressing condolences to the families of the victims.

Reading from a prepared statement ahead of his sentencing, Metaxas said he “doesn’t have any clear answers” as to why he committed the killings.

Cyprus Special Disaster Response Unit and investigators transport a suitcase from a boat.

He said his cooperation with police investigators was “the least” he could do to ease the pain he caused to the families of the victims and his own.

Police say the accused, a divorced father of two, met many of his adult victims on online social networks.

The police chief was sacked and the justice minister resigned following accounts of bungled investigations by police who did not take the disappearances seriously because the women were foreign.

 A diver walks out from a toxic man-made lake after a dive search for a third victim.