Strangulation ruled out in second post-mortem

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Cyprus police are reportedly holding their horses in the alleged murder case of a 28-year-old Ukrainian woman found dead at the bottom of a cliff near Aphrodite’s Rock in Paphos, following a second post-mortem.

Police spokesperson Christos Andreou told state radio CyBC on Thursday that investigators were being cautious after a second autopsy was concluded in the death of 28-year-old Lesia Bykova, whose cliff death over the weekend was being handled as a premeditated murder case.

Officers had been treating the woman’s death as a murder case, following a first autopsy which, according to state pathologists, revealed evidence of strangulation and sexual molestation.

The woman’s 30-year-old partner was arrested as the main suspect.

However, private forensic examiner Marios Matsakis, following the procedures of the second post-mortem on behalf of the suspect, told media on Thursday that there was no evidence of strangulation.

In comments to Sigma TV, Matsakis supported that his client’s version of events about a tragic accident checked out.

The second autopsy was carried out on Thursday by Dr Chara Speliotopoulou, a forensic expert called in from Greece by Attorney General, George Savvides.

Her report is expected later in the day or on Friday, pending her visit to the scene.

The first six-hour autopsy conducted by medical forensic examiners Angeliki Papetta and Orthodoxos Orthodoxou found the victim had injuries inconsistent with a free fall.

She had bruises around her neck, while her hyoid bone was fractured raising suspicions of premeditated murder.

It is also suspected the woman had also been raped before she died.

Selfie

Her partner first claimed that the woman had fallen to her death after slipping while attempting to take a selfie photo near Aphrodite’s Rock.

The suspect claimed that he and Bykova had been drinking and doing drugs on Saturday morning after a night out, when she accidently fell from a height of 100 meters.

Matsakis said that a fractured hyoid bone could occur in a car accident or from a tumble.

In his comments to Sigma TV, Matsakis said that the 30-year-old did not claim she fell to her death, but rather that she tumbled down the cliffside, which he claimed were consistent with injuries the body displayed in the second post-mortem conducted by Speliotopoulou.

Suspicions against the man were enhanced by prosecutors’ dismissal of the suspect’s claims that he had climbed down to help Bykova, saying that it was impossible for someone to climb down without a harness.

Forensic examiner Matsakis visited the site, where he was able to climb down with the use of a safety rope, to confirm the man’s account of events, namely that he had tried to reach Bykova.

“In order to confirm all this, you have to climb down to see for yourself, it is not possible to see this by standing at the top and looking down,” said Matsakis, critical towards the state prosecutors’ hastiness to draw conclusions.

He argued that preliminary findings from the site, a physical exam of the suspect, and the post-mortem were consistent with his client’s account, but added he still had to examine the clothes of both the man and the woman.

He claimed that authorities will not grant him permission to do so.

As reported by local media, Dr Speliotopoulou will be examining the victims and suspects’ clothes for further evidence.

Meanwhile, the police declined to say whether the case had changed from a murder investigation to accidental death, pending the official report of the second autopsy.