Conscript’s death treated as premeditated murder

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The death of conscript Thanasis Nicolaou declared a suicide 17 years ago, is now being treated by Cyprus police as premeditated murder, with a special task force assigned to the case.

Army conscript Thanasis Nicolaou, 26, was found dead under a Limassol bridge in 2005, with authorities declaring it a suicide at the time.

After years of campaigning by his parents, who would not accept their son had committed suicide, new forensic evidence that his death was from strangulation prompted Attorney General George Savvides to reopen the case.

A task force will now look into a number of Nicolaou’s fellow soldiers and how police officers and state pathologists handled the case in 2005.

Criminal investigators will examine older bullying complaints involving some of Thanasis’ fellow soldiers.

They will also compare three sets of DNA evidence collected from the conscript’s clothes.

Investigators Antonis Alexopoulos and Savvas Matsas, probing the case earlier this year, named suspects in their findings handed to the Attorney General.

Authorities looking into the 2005 incident found evidence of a ‘sickening’ cover-up to make it look like suicide.

Alexopoulos and Matsas’ inquiry report was submitted to the attorney-general last month and is the third submitted to his office into the circumstances surrounding Nicolaou’s death.

The report also points the finger at investigating officers and then state pathologists who had ruled it suicide, solely based on the fact that the conscript’s body had been found under a bridge.

The soldier’s body was found under a bridge in Alassa, Limassol, in September 2005, about 12 kilometres from his home and barracks.

Authorities were convinced that Nicolaou had committed suicide, but police had not questioned all his army comrades, despite the victim filing a report of being bullied.

As reported, three police officers and a medical examiner, named in the media as Panicos Stavrianos, are to be investigated for negligence while performing their duties.

Coroners in Athens last year, who had examined the 26-year-old’s exhumed remains separately, concluded that Nicolaou had been strangled, as his hyoid bone, initially recorded as undamaged, was broken.

Attorney General George Savvides has given investigators three months to conclude their probe.