Cyprus justice minister resigns over serial killings uproar

FILE PHOTO: Protesters hold up placards during a public vigil in memory of the victims of a suspected serial killer outside the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Stefanos Kouratzis/File Photo

Cyprus’s justice minister resigned on Thursday amid public uproar at how police handled disappearances of foreign women, victims of a suspected serial killer whose actions went undetected for almost three years.

Four women have been found murdered in the past three weeks, their bodies dumped in three locations west of the capital Nicosia. Investigations are under way into three other disappearances, including two girls aged six and eight.

A 35-year-old career army officer is in custody and police say he has confessed to seven killings in total after having connected with the women on an online dating site.

“I informed the president of the republic that I am resigning for reasons of political sensitivity,” Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou told reporters after meeting President Nicos Anastasiades.

Nicolaou said Anastasiades accepted his resignation.

Authorities have come under fierce criticism for not thoroughly investigating reports of the women disappearing in the first place.

A mother and daughter from Romania, thought to be the first victims, disappeared in September 2016, and the last of the  victims, from the Philippines, around August 2018.

Police say they will conduct an investigation into any perceived shortcomings.