Playing video game

Missing teen: Courts refused prosecutors early attempts to access phone data

It took six months for clearance that solved case

The big debate this week following the discovery of a missing teenager over 200 kms from home, living in the home of a 48-year-old man, is why judges refused early attempts by the Public Prosecutions Office to access the girl’s mobile phone data.

Had prosecutors’ requests been granted at the outset, 17 year old Luana would have been home last summer.

And had her ‘captor’ been differently inclined, she could well have been dead by the time authorities finally received the green light to locate her.

This is what is far more ‘pressing’ today than the fact that a troubled teen spent eight months in a bedroom playing video games, seemingly not even homesick.

Sexual predators are not expected to help investigations, but judges are. 

In this context, President Marcelo has admitted that “a justice that is fair requires adequate means”.

Observador online outlines the trials and tribulations of solving the case of missing Luana Pereira, who ‘vanished’ on May 30 last year and was only found, in a bedroom glued (figuratively) to a games console, last Tuesday.

It apparently took two requests, and an appeal to the Court of Appeal in Coimbra, before investigators got the authorisation they needed to trace Luana’s communications 

Two times Leira Court of Criminal Investigation decided “not to allow access to the data”. 

On both occasions, the judge based the refusal on the metadata law – which determines that access to information on telecommunications traffic and location by investigations requires judicial authorization – an access that this particular judge considered undue.

It was only after the Public Prosecutions Office appealed to the Appeal Court of Coimbra, arguing that access was “indispensable and crucial” to locating Luana alive, that investigators got the go-ahead. And two months later they hit pay dirt.

Says Observador: “Contrary to the judge of Leiria, the Court of Appeal of Coimbra understood that the argument of protection of metadata was not valid in light of a case of kidnapping. 

Coimbra appeal court’s criticism of the dillydallying did not stop there: “In this case, in which the life of a child is at stake, a possible victim of crime herself, let’s leave aside technical-legal doubts and presume a more than probable concrete danger to the life of this young girl who has been missing for six months”. 

Less than two months later the nation heard the news (last Tuesday) that Luana had been found, safe, in physical health and returned to her parents,

According to the PJ, Luana had been held captive “under cover of a supposed love affair” that the investigation believes had been going on since she was 14 years old. 

The youngster spent her days locked in a room with no light, wearing headphones and playing online video games. 

The 48-year-old man suspected of taking “persistent and recurrent advantage of the victim’s online gaming addiction, immaturity and fragile personality” is due to hear what the courts have in store for him later today.

Correio da Manhã meantime reports that Luana has admitted that she “missed her bed” in her parents’ home in Leiria, and is now on under strict orders: “We will be on top of her”, her mother told reporters. “We will try to stop her being on the Internet when we are not around. She will have to be watched while playing video games, and she will have limits on the time spent online. She won’t be allowed a microphone either, to make sure she doesn’t make any undesirable contacts…”

CM adds that Luana is going to be ‘accompanied by psychologists”.

[email protected]