Spain reels as police search for missing toddler feared killed by father

Spanish rescuers continued trawling the seabed for the body of a toddler in waters off Tenerife on Monday after investigators said they believed she -- like her sister - had been killed by their father.

anna and olivia missing tenerife
Sisters Anna and Olivia, aged one and six, were reported missing on April 27th. Photo: Handout

The case has shocked Spain, and on Monday crowds demonstrated at town halls across the country to protest domestic violence after similar gatherings over the weekend.

The girls, aged one and six, were reported missing on April 27th after being taken away by their father, Tomas Gimeno. Investigators fear he abducted and killed them.

On Thursday, the body of six-year-old Olivia was found at the bottom of the sea off Tenerife wrapped in a bag that was weighted down with an anchor.

The investigating magistrate said it was “most likely” that Gimeno had killed both his daughters at home then dumped their bodies at a depth where they were unlikely to ever be found.

In her nine-page statement, the magistrate said when Gimeno had taken the girls, he wanted “to kill them in a planned and premeditated manner”.

READ MORE: How the death of six-year-old Olivia is exposing Spain’s cruellest gender violence

“He aimed to inflict on his ex-partner the greatest pain that he could imagine, an inhuman pain,” she said.

On the day the girls went missing, Gimeno was seen loading several bags onto his boat, witnesses told investigators.

An autopsy carried out on Friday morning found Olivia had died a “violent death”, the court said, after a gag order was lifted over the weekend.

 ‘Monstrous act’

The case has gripped Spain, where 39 minors have been killed since 2013 by their fathers or by a partner or former partner of their mothers.

And so far this year alone, 18 women have been killed as a result of gender violence. The overall number of victims now stands at 1,096 since records first began on January 1, 2003, government figures show.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Friday “the whole of Spain is in shock” over the case, which has been passed to a Tenerife court specialising in gender violence.

The court magistrate said the worst was feared for Olivia’s sister Anna.

“Although only Olivia’s body has been located so far the most probable hypothesis regarding Anna is, unfortunately, the same,” she said.

The suspected abduction and murder of the two girls came a year after the girls’ mother, Beatriz Zimmermann, broke up with Gimeno.

He sent her “offensive and insulting” messages after the break-up, especially when she found a new partner, the magistrate said.

“The defendant’s desire was to leave his ex-partner in the dark as to the fate of Olivia and Anna,” she wrote.

In a searing open letter published on Sunday, the girls’ mother wrote that it was “the most monstrous act a person can commit: killing their own innocent children”.

“When they told me the news, the world came crashing down on me, and as hard as it is, at least now I can mourn their loss,” she wrote.

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Shakira loses appeal and inches closer to Spanish tax fraud trial

Colombian superstar Shakira inched closer to standing trial in Spain for tax fraud after a Barcelona court dismissed an appeal from the singer, in a ruling made public Thursday.

Shakira loses appeal and inches closer to Spanish tax fraud trial

Prosecutors accuse the 45-year-old “Hips don’t Lie” songstress of defrauding the Spanish tax office out of 14.5 million euros ($15.5 million) on income earned between 2012 and 2014.

Prosecutors say she moved to Spain in 2011 when her relationship with FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique became public but maintained official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015.

Her defence team argues she moved to Spain full time only in 2015 and has met all tax obligations.

They say that until 2014 she earned most of her money from international tours, did not live more than six months a year in Spain and was therefore not resident under tax law.

But a Barcelona court ruled that “documentation provided to prove” tax residence overseas “does not appear to sufficient”.

“We can consider that the appellant had her usual residence in Spain,” the court added in a ruling made public on Thursday.

The ruling ratifies a prior court decision issued in 2021.

Prosecutors now need to present an indictment before the court can order a trial.

Shakira’s lawyers insisted Thursday that her “conduct on tax matters has always been impeccable in all the countries she had to pay taxes”.

She has “no debts to the Spanish tax authorities” and paid any sums claimed by the tax authorities “as soon as she became aware of the amount,” they added in a statement.

Shakira, who has sold over 60 million albums, lives with Pique on the outskirts of Barcelona. The couple have two children.