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Young woman raised in isolation in a Swiss forest located in southern Spain

Switzerland was looking for the minor, who was found with her father standing next to a rundown vehicle in Coín

Cartel en la carretera A-35,  que une los municipios de Marbella y Coín
Sign on Spain's A-35 highway, which connects the municipalities of Marbella and Coín.Álvaro Cabrera

The local police in Coín, a small town in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, have located a 17-year-old who was raised in a forest in Switzerland without contact with society. Swiss authorities had been searching for her since her father ran away with her and her two older sisters, and had activated an international search warrant to take the minor away from her father. After being transferred to a regional youth center, she was flown back to Switzerland, where she has become a ward of the state. She will turn 18 in late May.

The discovery, reported by Diario Sur on Wednesday, was accidental. It happened on March 18, when a patrol from the Coín local police noticed a dirty vehicle with a damaged wheel that looked like people might be living in it. Next to the car was an unkempt-looking man and a young woman in dirty clothes. The police checked their ID and entered their names into their database.

An alarm went off in the SIRENE service — an acronym for Supplementary Information Request at the National Entries — which establishes cooperation on information sharing between countries in the Schengen area. The information warned that the minor’s whereabouts were unknown, that she was in a dangerous situation and that, if located, local security forces should transfer her to a safe place due to the high flight risk posed by her father.

The patrol reported it to the Juvenile Prosecutor’s Office and regional youth protection services, which contacted the Swiss authorities. The latter confirmed that the young woman had grown up with her two sisters in a forest in Switzerland, where they were raised by their father in “total disconnection” from any public administration and from other people. The daughters had not seen their mother for six years.

Diario Sur reported that, according to Swiss social services, both parents have mental health problems and the daughter has the intellectual ability of a small child, and would require protection until her return. The 17-year-old was flown back home on May 3 in the company of Swiss officials. She has been placed under the care of the Swiss government.

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