'Cave woman' ponders nun's life

Nicosia - A foreign woman found semi-conscious in a cave has Cyprus abuzz wondering who she is, where she comes from and why she now wants to join a convent.

When "the cave woman" was found by farmers near Paphos in April she appeared to be deaf and dumb, and would communicate with doctors at a psychiatric clinic only by written notes. She had no identity documents.

Since then, the woman, in her mid-forties, has claimed to be a Polish Jew, a Romanian gypsy and the jilted lover of an American serviceman in Germany. At times she has spoken fluent English, but refuses to give her name.

There are reports that she is Swiss, Swedish, an English school teacher or, most recently, an Israeli. There has been speculation about a link with the discovery of a headless and armless corpse that washed ashore on Cyprus last week.

The latest twist is that the woman, who has a flower tattooed on her stomach, says she wants to join a convent, but only if she can have male visitors. The request has met with some scepticism from the Greek Orthodox Church.

Frustrated police officers are losing patience. "If you ask me, she should be arrested," said Inspector Haris Tsadiotis, who is heading the investigation. "If she were restricted for a couple of days, then she would talk and tell us who she is."