Police insist Ukrainian woman’s death ‘murder’

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Cyprus police are still treating the death of 28-year-old Lesya Bykova from Ukraine, found dead near Aphrodite’s Rock in Paphos, as murder, and were expected to seek a renewal of the remand order for her 31-year-old partner.

The police were set to request the remand order renewal, despite a second autopsy shedding doubt over state examiners’ findings of foul play.

Police had been reportedly holding their horses pending the official report of the second autopsy, which was carried out last Wednesday.

The main suspect in the case, Bykova’s partner, also from Ukraine, was arrested following the results of the first autopsy, which concluded there were signs of sexual abuse and strangulation on her body.

Talking to the Cyprus News Agency, the head of Paphos Criminal Investigation Department Michalis Nicolaou said the remand order for the only suspect in the case expires on Tuesday, confirming that the force is treating the woman’s death as a murder case.

“The Paphos police considered the official opinion of the two medical examiners which talks of a criminal act. For now, Paphos CID is investigating premeditated murder,” said the officer.

Police are waiting for the second autopsy, carried out on Wednesday by Greek medical examiner Chara Spiliopoulou, called in after the suspect claimed the woman’s death was an accident.

If no conclusive evidence is provided from the second post-mortem, carried out in the presence of state pathologists Angeliki Papetta and Orthodoxos Orthodoxos, as well as former state pathologist Marios Matsakis on behalf of the 31-year-old suspect, the arrest warrant is expected to be renewed.

Nicolaou told CNA, that Spiliopoulou would be announcing her findings upon receiving a series of lab tests. He confirmed that the report will be key to investigations.

The 28-year-old Ukrainian woman was found dead in the vicinity of Aphrodite’s Rock on March 11, where she had been on an excursion with her partner.

The woman fell to her death from a 100m cliff.

Inconsistent

The first six-hour autopsy conducted by medical forensic examiners Papetta and 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 may have been raped before she died.

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.

Medical examiner Matsakis supported his client’s claims, arguing that a fractured hyoid bone found in the initial autopsy, could occur in a car accident or from a tumble.

In his comments on 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 Spiliopoulou.

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.

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

Meanwhile, investigations continue with statements from the family and friends of the victim and suspect, and from persons who had been out with the couple the night before the fatal event, said the Paphos CID spokesperson.