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Unmasked: 18 women on new list of Europe’s most-wanted fugitives

Europol has revealed the names of Europe's most-wanted fugitives – and 18 of the 21 criminals on the list are women.

The EU crime agency says its list proves that women are equally capable of committing serious crimes as men.

According to Europol, the number of women engaged in criminal activity has increased in recent decades – potentially because technological progress and social norms have liberated them from the home and increased their participation in the crime market.

The 21 fugitives are wanted for grave offences like murder, drug trafficking, fraud, theft and human trafficking.

As part of the Crime Has No Gender campaign, 21 EU member states were asked to select one of their most-wanted criminals. Artwork covers the face of each criminal, with parts of the mask disappearing as the story unfolds to reveal their gender.

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The fugitives include Elisabeth Gertrude Skarits, a 63-year-old Austrian national who is on the run and was last seen at a hotel in the summer of 2011. She is suspected of at least 12 cases of serious fraud in the real estate sector, with victims losing an estimated €4.2m (£3.6m).

Belgium is trying to track down Hilde Van Acker, who was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for the murder of British businessman Marcus John Mitchell in May 1996. It is believed she is on the run with her partner, Jean-Claude Lacote, who was also convicted.

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The Czech Republic is seeking information about Iveta Tancosova, who was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison after a young girl was lured to England under the pretence she would work as a nurse. Immediately after her arrival, her passport was taken and she was forced to work as a prostitute. Tancosova is still hiding from the law, and her location is unknown.

Image: Jessica Esohe Edosomwan was allegedly part of a gang that smuggled girls from Nigeria

France is also seeking a woman suspected of human trafficking. Jessica Esohe Edosomwan is thought to be in France, Germany or Belgium, and she is among more than 20 people who were allegedly involved in the criminal network. The gang is said to have recruited young girls in Nigeria who were promised a new life in western Europe, only to be housed and fed in horrible conditions and ordered to repay high debts.

In Hungary, Ildiko Dudas is on the run. The 31-year-old was sentenced to six years in prison for drug trafficking and child abuse after being convicted of selling illegal substances in bars and nightclubs – taking her children with her as the transactions took place.

Italy wants help in its hunt for Serbian national Olivera Pertrovic Ristic, who was involved in tying up, hitting and strangling a 75-year-old man during a robbery. He later died of his injuries.

Olivera Pertrovic Ristic tied up, hit and strangled a pensioner during a robbery in Italy. Pic: Europol
Image: Olivera Pertrovic Ristic tied up, hit and strangled a pensioner during a robbery in Italy

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