A lesbian couple have gone missing after allegedly being tricked into leaving the UK for the Middle East.
Maria Jimena Rico’s family reported that the waitress and her girlfriend, Shaza Ismail, had fled to Dubai after being duped by Shaza’s father.
Maria’s mum and sister claim her Egyptian girlfriend Shaza’s dad tricked them into flying to Dubai, where homosexuality is a crime and can be punished with the death penalty, by saying her mum was gravely ill.
Shortly after arriving, the London-based couple flew to Georgia after discovering that Shaza’s mum was not ill – and instead their arrival had been reported to the authorities by her dad.
Jimena, 28, vanished after leaving a desperate WhatsApp message for her family saying Shaza’s family had followed her to Georgia with a lawyer.
She added that she and Shaza had been held for 10 hours at the airport before being released.
However, a short while later, the women disappeared as they headed to the Turkish capital Istanbul, where a London-based friend had booked them a hotel.
Spanish police are now understood to be in contact with counterparts in Turkey to try to find the pair, who have made no contact with family or friends since Monday morning.
The Spaniard’s anguished family say Shaza’s dad was hellbent on separating the pair and forcing his daughter to stay in the Middle East.
Maria’s distraught mum Teresa, revealed that the last WhatsApp message she received before her daughter vanished said that she was boarding a coach to Istanbul.
She said: ‘She told me: “If I don’t call at midday, it’s because something happened to me”.
‘She never called.’
Maria Jimena’s sister Maria del Valle, 36, told a Spanish TV station today: ‘Shaza’s dad has told me he doesn’t know where they are and hasn’t seen them since the incident at the airport in Georgia.
‘I don’t know whether to believe him or not but I think the fact he’s called me means that he really doesn’t know anything and is telling me the truth.
‘He insists he didn’t do anything to my sister.
‘He called me this morning. He seemed very worried. My sister and Shaza were waiting for a flight back to London at the airport in Georgia when he appeared with security guards and a lawyer, saying he wanted to take his daughter with him.
‘He took Shaza’s rucksack off her where she had both their passports and ripped up a visa.’
She added: ‘The Argentine Embassy in Turkey who I’ve also reported my sister missing to have contacted me to say the Spanish police are in contact with the Turkish police and they’re looking for her.’
A spokesman for the Civil Guard in Malaga confirmed: ‘The mother of the Spanish woman has reported the women missing. She reported them missing on Tuesday.
‘Everything investigators here can do to try to get to the bottom of what has happened, is being done.’