A London-based lesbian couple has vanished after being ‘tricked’ into flying to the Middle East.
Maria Jimena Rico Montero, originally from Argentina, and her Egyptian girlfriend Shaza Ismail have not made contact with their family since Monday (24 April).
Montero’s mother alleges Ismail’s ‘disapproving’ father tricked them into flying to Dubai. Homosexuality is punishable by death in the United Arab Emirates.
He allegedly said Ismail’s mother was ‘on her deathbed’.
When the couple arrived in Dubai, they found Ismail’s mother to be healthy – and their arrival had reportedly been announced to the authorities.
The couple then flew to Georgia to make their way home back to the UK from there.
But Ismail’s father reportedly followed them to Georgia and confronted them in the airport, backed up by guards and a lawyer.
According to Montero’s mother, the father ripped up his daughter’s visa and stole both women’s passports so they couldn’t board their flight home.
Contacting her mother, Montero also said the women were held in the airport for 10 hours.
A London-based friend then booked the women into a hotel in Istanbul.
The couple boarded a coach to take them the width of Turkey, but they never arrived at their hotel.
Montero’s mother said her daughter left a ‘desperate’ WhatsApp message before the couple vanished, in which she said Ismail’s family had followed them to Georgia.
‘She told me: “If I don’t call at midday, it’s because something happened to me”,’ Montero’s mother said.
‘She never called.’
According to Spanish-language media, Montero and Ismail were in the Turkish city of Samsun, from where their coach to Istanbul was supposed to leave.
On Spanish TV Montero’s sister, Maria del Valle, said she had been in contact with Ismail’s father who said he doesn’t know where the couple is.
He also told her he had not heard from them since the incident in Georgia.
del Valle said because it was Ismail’s father who called her, and not the other way round, she was inclined to believe him.
‘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,’ she said.
‘He insists he didn’t do anything to my sister. He seemed very worried.’
The family reported their daughter and her girlfriend missing at the Argentine Embassy in Turkey.
Turkish and Spanish police are now working to find the women.