Cypriot police search for more victims of suspected serial killer

Police officers and rescuers are seen at the area where the body of a woman was discovered near the village of Orounta

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.

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Cyprus serial killer investigation
Police forensics officers, rescuers and divers retrieve a suitcase, which police say contains a female body, during an investigation for possible bodies of victims of a suspected serial killer in Kokkinopezoula lake, also known as "red lake", near the village of Mitsero, Cyprus, April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Marinos Meletiou
A diver, left, and an Investigator hold a suitcase found in a man-made lake, near the village of Mitsero outside of the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Sunday, April 28, 2019. A travel suitcase containing the decomposing remains of an adult woman and a concrete block was retrieved from the bottom of a man-made lake, the chief of Cyprus’ Criminal Investigation Department said Sunday. The woman is believed to be one of the victims of a Cypriot military officer who has confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Police forensics officers, rescuers and divers retrieve a suitcase, which police say contains a female body, during an investigation for possible bodies of victims of a suspected serial killer in Kokkinopezoula lake, also known as "red lake", near the village of Mitsero, Cyprus, April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Marinos Meletiou
Police forensics officers, rescuers and divers retrieve a suitcase, which police say contains a female body, during an investigation for possible bodies of victims of a suspected serial killer in Kokkinopezoula lake, also known as "red lake", near the village of Mitsero, Cyprus, April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Marinos Meletiou
Police forensics officers, rescuers and divers retrieve a suitcase, which police say contains a female body, during an investigation for possible bodies of victims of a suspected serial killer in Kokkinopezoula lake, also known as "red lake", near the village of Mitsero, Cyprus, April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Marinos Meletiou
Investigators are searching for bodies with a special camera in a man-made lake near the village of Mitsero outside of the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Saturday, April 27, 2019. Cyprus police are intensifying a search for the remains of more victims at locations where an army officer, who authorities say admitted to killing five women and two girls had dumped their bodies. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Firefighters and investigators search the man made lake near the village of Mitsero outside of the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, April 26, 2019. Cyprus police are intensifying a search for the remains of more victims at locations where an army officer who authorities say admitted to killing five women and two girls had dumped their bodies. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Police officers stand by the man made lake near village of Mitsero outside of the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, April 26, 2019. Cyprus police are intensifying a search for the remains of more victims at locations where an army officer who authorities say admitted to killing five women and two girls had dumped their bodies. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Firefighters and investigators search the man made lake near the village of Mitsero outside of the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, April 26, 2019. Cyprus police are intensifying a search for the remains of more victims at locations where an army officer who authorities say admitted to killing five women and two girls had dumped their bodies. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Firefighters and investigators search the man made lake near the village of Mitsero outside of the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Friday, April 26, 2019. Cyprus police are intensifying a search for the remains of more victims at locations where an army officer who authorities say admitted to killing five women and two girls had dumped their bodies. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Cypriot investigators and police officers search a field where a body was found, outside of Orounta village, near the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tursday, April 25, 2019. Police in Cyprus confronted the possibility Thursday that a serial killer had been at large in their midst after an army captain in custody for the deaths of two women claimed responsibility for more slayings, seven in all.(AP Photo)
Cypriot investigators and police officers search a field where a body were found, outside of Orounta village, near the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, April 25, 2019. Police in Cyprus confronted the possibility Thursday that a serial killer had been at large in their midst after an army captain in custody for the deaths of two women claimed responsibility for more slayings, seven in all.(AP Photo)
A police truck carries a body found after Cypriot investigators and police officers searched at a field outside of Orounta village, near the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Thursday, April 25, 2019. Police in Cyprus confronted the possibility that a serial killer had been at large in their midst after an army captain in custody for the deaths of two women claimed responsibility for more slayings, seven in all.(AP Photo)
Rescuers on an inflatable boat operate in a lake as they search for a six-year-old missing girl at the Xyliatos dam in Cyprus, April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
Rescuers search a mine shaft at a mine where two women were found dead, near the village of Mitsero in Cyprus, April 21, 2019. Picture taken April 21, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
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"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.

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