Missing Spaniard

Spanish woman who was fleeing father of girlfriend found in Istanbul

Jimena Rico and Egyptian partner “threatened with death” by parent, who didn’t accept their relationship

The fears of a family from the municipality of Torrox, in Malaga, were calmed on Thursday, after a relative, 28-year-old Spaniard Jimena Rico Montero, managed to get in touch with them from Istanbul after having disappeared on Monday. The woman’s mother and sister feared that something may have happened to her given that at the time contact was lost she was in Turkey, trying to flee from the father of her girlfriend, who is Egyptian.

Jimena Rico and her partner Shaza.
Jimena Rico and her partner Shaza.

The man reportedly would not accept the fact that his daughter was gay, forbade the relationship from continuing and had issued death threats. The couple was traveling together at the time of the woman’s disappearance.

Rico Montero, who has joint Spanish-Argentinean nationality, had been with her partner, Shaza, since 2016. The pair currently live in London.

Since contact was lost with the two on Monday, they have reportedly been held in a Turkish detention center all week, and were unable to communicate with the outside world. The pair were detained for lacking proper documentation, and according to official sources were located in police custody in Istanbul.

The family reported the case to the Spanish Civil Guard on Tuesday, according to the woman’s sister, and they had also been in touch with the Spanish embassy in Turkey. Spanish authorities have been able to speak to them both now that they have been located.

She told her family that if they didn’t hear from her, “they should tell the police and the authorities”

Rico Montero and her partner will now be deported to London, Spanish embassy sources in Ankara have told news agency EFE. The Spanish Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Information Office also explained that the consulate is taking the necessary steps to offer Rico Montero assistance.

The family last had contact with Rico Montero on Sunday night, a few hours before she got in touch with her roommate. She apparently told them that if they didn’t hear anything from her, “they should tell the police and the authorities because something might have happened,” Spanish radio network Cadena Ser reported on Thursday.

According to mother and sister, Rico Montero explained to them that the couple, who have been together since 2016, flew “under false pretenses” from London to Dubai, where the Egyptian woman’s family are based. They had been told that her mother was ill, but once they arrived, the father threatened his daughter, who is named Shaza, with death for having a homosexual relationship, and reported her to the authorities in the Middle Eastern country.

The father is reportedly a “powerful” man, who travels with a bodyguard

The two women fled to Georgia and tried to catch a flight to London, but at that point, reportedly, the father arrived. María del Valle, the sister of the missing women, explained that he is a “powerful” man, who travels with a bodyguard.

An altercation apparently took place, in which the police were involved, but apparently the women managed to escape and headed for the Turkish border. They caught a bus to the city of Samsun, on the northern coast of Turkey, before heading for Istanbul.

Rico Montero contacted her roommate at 9.38am Monday on arrival there, telling her that they would be heading to a hotel and then planned on going to the Spanish consulate. However, they never made it to either of those locations, and nothing was heard from them until Thursday.

Rico Montero’s sister, María del Valle, has since confirmed that she received a phone call on Thursday morning from a man who said he was the father of Shaza. He reportedly explained that he had not done anything to the pair and that he didn’t know where they were. He did, however, admit that he had put pressure on his daughter due to her sexual orientation, but he denied having hurt her or having tried to hurt the Spaniard. His intention, he claimed, was for his daughter to return to live in Dubai with the rest of his family.

He also confirmed that he had been involved in the altercation in the airport in Tbilisi, Georgia, in which the local police intervened.

English version by Simon Hunter.


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