A series of murders targeting several Filipino women in Cyprus sparked accusations of police racism due to the lack of subsequent investigations.
For nearly three years, Nikos Metaxas, a 35-year-old army officer, roamed free to execute the “first serial killings” in the island country, which has earned the reputation of a peaceful oasis in the Mediterranean.
Metaxas reportedly confessed to killing seven people, including four Filipinos, two of whom were a mother and her 6-year-old daughter. Other victims include a Nepalese woman, a Romanian woman and her 8-year-daughter.
“I am bored. I want to go to prison. Bring some paper so I can write it all,” said Metaxas before submitting a 10-paged confession, according to local news outlet Politis.
Cyprus, which won independence from Britain in 1960, has an estimated population of 1.1 million people. It’s unclear how many Filipinos have been living and/or working in the country at present.
In late April, hundreds turned up for a protest vigil outside the nation’s presidential palace to mourn the murders. The Filipino victims include Maricar Valdez Arquiola, Arian Palanas Lozano, Mary Rose Tiburcio and her 6-year-old daughter Sierra, while the Nepalese victim was identified as Khadha Anu.
All individuals had been reported missing, but police reportedly failed to do follow-up work on the cases.
“The more the investigation advanced, the more it became clear that the police botched the searches because these were immigrant women,” said Maria Mappouridou, who has organized protests, according to AFP.
Ensuing demonstrations did not only point out the fact that the victims were foreigners but also women — and Cyprus continues to struggle with gender equality based on the latest estimates from the World Economic Forum.
“You have to remember migrants are part of our society. I don’t know a family here who does not have a nanny, a cleaner,” said protester Nicoletta Georgiou. “The victims were doubly invisible – female and foreign.”
In a statement, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said that he shares the public’s anger at “murders that appear to have selectively targeted foreign women who are in our country to work.”
“Such instincts are contrary to our culture’s traditions and values,” he added, according to AP News.
On Monday, Metaxas has been ordered to remain in detention for another eight days as investigations continue.