The judge overseeing the case of missing Spanish teen Diana Quer has ordered a stay of proceedings due to the absence of clear suspects following an inconclusive eight-month investigation. If new evidence turns up, that stay will be lifted. The court has also lifted the seal on a case that made headlines in Spain, as much because of the young woman’s mysterious disappearance as for the tale of family feuding that ensued.
EL PAÍS has learned that the Civil Guard has been trying to prevent the stay for weeks, redoubling efforts to find clues in the Galician location of Pobra do Caramiñal where the 18-year-old went missing on the night of August 22.
The Superior Court of Justice of Galicia said that Judge Félix Isaac Alonso made the decision due to the lack of evidence against anyone in particular, but noted that it is necessary to continue the criminal investigation because “several lines of investigation” are still open.
As a father and as a citizen I call upon the interior and justice ministers’ sense of duty
Juan Carlos Quer, Diana’s father
The court is essentially waiting for investigators to finish analyzing a vast amount of telephone data obtained through court authorization. Officers have accumulated around 200 witness testimonies and waded through millions of telephone signals, finally honing in on 80 cellphone users who followed the same path as Diana on the night of her disappearance. Thousands of vehicle license plates were checked, and police also interrogated friends of the victim in the Madrid suburb of Pozuelo de Alarcón, Diana’s usual place of residence.
Diana’s parents, Diana López and Juan Carlos Quer, were summoned to court on Wednesday to hear the judge’s decision to put the case on hold. The couple is divorced and they went in separately. Following the session, the mother emerged in tears and declined to make any statements. The father did address the media to say that “I respect the decision, but in no way share it. This is very sad news for me, for my family and for my daughter.”
“As a father and as a citizen I call upon the interior and justice ministers’ sense of duty so that the people responsible for this act will be taken to justice and made to pay their dues,” he said. “Spanish society does not deserve for this kind of act to go unpunished.”
The case took a new turn in September when it emerged that a court was taking custody of the younger daughter away from the mother. The father, Juan Carlos Quer, made public statements to the effect that the court’s decision “comes very late” and suggesting that his daughters “phoned me for help” on several occasions.
The couple divorced over four years ago and both girls had been living with their mother in Pozuelo de Alarcón in the region of Madrid. Local residents of A Pobra in Galicia, where all three spent their summer holidays, reported hearing a loud family dispute shortly before Diana’s disappearance.
Diana Quer went missing in the early hours of August 22, 2016 after walking back to her summer holiday home from the local fiestas. Despite a massive search operation, the only physical evidence that turned up was the young woman’s iPhone 6, found in shallow waters in a nearby location. Investigators suspect that it was left there by her assailants in a bid to confuse the police.
Investigators have probed every scenario, ranging from a kidnapping – which the family defended even though nobody ever got in touch with them to ask for a ransom – to the possibility that Diana left voluntarily because of her strained relationship with her mother and sister.
The government delegate in Galicia, Santiago Villanueva, has insisted repeatedly that the key to cracking the case lies in “crossing” the “infinite set of data” obtained by investigators.
English version by Susana Urra.