DNA could be key to soldier’s murder

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Attorney General George Savvides told the parents of murdered soldier Thanasis Nicolaou that police are looking into DNA evidence collected 17 years ago.

Army conscript 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 the Attorney General to reopen the case.

On Friday, Thanasis’ parents heard officials tell them that the next step in the case would be to compare DNA found on their son’s clothes with that of soldiers serving with him at the time of his death.

Savvides and his deputy Savvas Angelides attended the meeting, with the parents, their lawyer Loukis Loukaides, the deputy chief of police Demetris Demetriou and investigator Antonis Alexopoulos.

Investigators have collected statements, including fellow soldiers of the murdered conscript while collecting from the evidence room his clothes with DNA evidence found at the time.

The DNA of three people was found on Thanasis’ clothes; however, as police deemed the case as suicide, efforts to match the DNA with possible suspects were never made.

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

These people are expected to be invited to testify.

The inquiry report was submitted to the attorney-general last month and is the third probe into the circumstances surrounding Nicolaou’s death.

The report also points the finger at police 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.

He 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.

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, concluded that Nicolaou had been strangled, as his hyoid bone, initially recorded as undamaged, was broken.

Savvides has given investigators until the end of January to conclude their probe.