On Wednesday, June 16, a protest gathering was held in Cyprus’ capital Nicosia under the leadership of the POGO Women’s Movement, demanding the authorities to make the police force more accountable, sensitive and efficient. Women’s groups and other progressive sections are protesting the failure of the authorities to indict 15 police officers for non-performance of duties in the Mitsero murders case. In 2019, the Supreme Court of Cyprus convicted serial killer Nikos Metaxas on charges related to the abduction and killing of seven women and girls between 2016 and 2018. An inquiry was also launched to determine if the police officers involved in the investigation had been negligent in the performance of their duty.
In the investigation into the negligence of duty by police officers in the Metaxas cases, the report by the Independent Authority for the Investigation of Allegations and Complaints against the Police stated that “it can not prove beyond any doubt that the members of the Police under investigation have deliberately neglected their duty.” Dialogos.com reported that according to the investigators, there was negligence of duty. However, the mistakes, stupidity, inadequacy or incompetence were not enough to prove the crime of ‘Neglect of Duty’.
Ex-military officer Metaxas was convicted by the court for killing five women and two children and sentenced to seven life terms. Metaxas had mainly targeted women from migrant backgrounds. These came to be known as Mitsero murders as the body of the first victim was retrieved from the Mitsero mines. The serial killings sparked widespread outrage against police authorities in the country and resulted in the resignation of the then Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou and sacking of the police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou.
Regarding the protest on Wednesday, the POGO Women’s Movement said, “we express our frustration and anger at the progress of the case, which in our view is a clear crime of misogyny and racism.”
“And we wonder how the seven victims of Nikolas Metaxas, who might have had other luck if the police did not show negligence, will find justice since even where there are findings, they are not enough? What example will this case set …and what messages does it send to society and potential victims?”
POGO secretary general Skevi Koukouma said that the police, the government and the ministry of justice should stop talking about the alleged changes made to the police or how much things have changed, arguing that these claims do not coincide with reality. Koukouma also called on the state to assume its responsibilities and sensitize the police force to abstain from racism.
Activists from the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) and the United Democratic Youth Organisation (EDON) also participated in the protests on Wednesday.