Investigators combing the seabed near the Canary Islands have found the body of one of two young sisters taken by their father weeks earlier without their mother’s permission.
Coroners have confirmed that the body which was found in a bag and tied to an anchor at a depth of 1,000 metres belonged to six-year-old Olivia, the older of the two sisters.
A similar bag that was empty was found nearby by a special oceanographic research vessel helping in the operation, Spain’s Civil Guard said.
The search for Olivia’s one-year-old sister Anna and their father, Tomas Gimeno, is still ongoing.
National and regional government officials condemned Olivia’s death and showed support for the girls’ mother, Beatriz Zimmermann.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez tweeted: “I cannot imagine the pain of the mother of little Anna and Olivia.
“My hug, my love and that of my whole family, who today sympathises with Beatriz and her loved ones.”
Women’s rights organisations have called for protests across Spain against the recent surge in violence against women, often using children as a means of inflicting harm.
Gimeno and the girls went missing on April 27th in Tenerife, the largest island in the archipelago off West Africa.
Ms Zimmermann, who is divorced from the girls’ father, was allegedly told by him that she would never see the girls again.
Investigators launched a search on land and sea but narrowed in on the waters off Tenerife after Gimeno’s boat was found empty and drifting at sea.
Interpol also joined the search, publishing the photographs of the two girls and issuing so-called “yellow notices” aimed at locating missing persons.
The girls’ mother had posted several videos of her daughters online in an effort to help find them.
Speaking at a women’s forum on Friday, Queen Letizia expressed “pain and sadness” for the deaths of Olivia and a 17-year-old woman killed by her partner in southern Spain earlier this week.
“I don’t think there is anyone this morning who is not trying to put themselves in the shoes of the people who love these murdered girls,” Letizia said.
Men have killed at least 18 women so far this year in Spain, according to data from the Equality Ministry, which has recorded 1,096 deaths since 2013, when the country started keeping data on crimes of gender violence.
Abusers often use children as means to inflict harm on their partners or ex-partners: since 2013, 39 minors have been murdered in the country by their biological fathers.