Syrian handed 25-year sentence for double murder

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A Syrian man accused of the double murder of two Russian women, who were found buried in the grounds of a mountain getaway, was handed a 25-year-in-prison sentence.

The now 33-year-old Syrian was convicted on two accounts of manslaughter after pleading guilty in a deal with prosecutors than the initial premeditated murder charges.

Also convicted in connection with the case, the man’s 44-year-old brother was sentenced to nine months in prison for interfering with a police investigation and tampering with evidence.

The Limassol Criminal Court imposed concurrent prison terms of 25 years on the main defendant for the two counts of murder.

“His act was cruel, brutal and intentional,” the Criminal Court said in its ruling, stressing that he killed two defenceless victims.

The two men were arrested for murdering Russian women Mariia Gazibagandova, 33, and Alraeesi Khaiat, 43, whose bodies were found on the grounds of a mountain cottage in Kardama, Limassol, in November 2021.

The women were found 18 days after they had gone missing on 17 November last year, at the holiday home where the main suspect had been doing repair work.

They had been staying in Larnaca on a tourist visa and went missing in mid-November.

Police had gathered incriminating evidence against the two suspects, including DNA.

The main suspect is a Cypriot national of Syrian origin and a father-of-two married to a Greek Cypriot woman.

He confessed to shooting the two women from 10 metres after returning from a hunting trip in the morning on 17 November.

He said he shot the women after losing his temper when he heard the victims talk disparagingly about him outside the cottage.

Evidence suggested at least one of the women had been shot at close range.

The two men had initially refuted any involvement with the women’s disappearance despite evidence implicating them.

The main suspect eventually broke under questioning and revealed the burial site to officers on 5 December 2021.

He admitted to shooting the women and burying them in a ditch dug up by two foreign workers who he had hired for the purpose.

The workers were unaware of the Syrian man’s actions.

Critics had fired at the police for taking several weeks to find the women’s burial site, while others had pointed to a possible trafficking network.

AKEL MP Irene Charalambides sent a letter to the Chief of Police, urging him to investigate any criminal networks linked to the women’s disappearance and murders.