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Woman reports her brother missing in Malaga and discovers he is dead and buried, without ceremony
Investigation

Woman reports her brother missing in Malaga and discovers he is dead and buried, without ceremony

His sister was told that the authorities could not locate any living family members after Eduardo died of natural causes while lodging at a friend's house, although she maintains he kept her telephone number in his wallet

Juan Cano

Malaga

Wednesday, 13 March 2024

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Eduardo Jiménez Rolando was 64 years old. He had been lodging in a room offered to him by a friend in La Trinidad neighbourhood of Malaga city, where he was born and raised with his seven siblings. Apparently, one of them, 'El Yeye', died several years ago. He had little or no contact with the rest although Manuela said that she and her sister, Ana, did see him from time to time and that he had their mobile phones numbers in his wallet, written down on a small piece of paper.

"When he died, he said he didn't want to be buried. He wanted to be cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea, like those of my mother and 'El Yeye'", said Manuela, who is unhappy about not having fulfilled the last wish of 'Cogote', as they called him.

Eduardo Jiménez Rolando has occupied a niche in the Parque Cementerio de Málaga (Parcemasa) since 2 March. His was a charity burial (for people without resources), paid for by the municipal coffers which cost around 1,200 euros. It was in absolute solitude because, Manuela maintains, the family was not informed that her brother had been found dead. In fact, she was looking for him and had even reported him missing to Malaga's National Police headquarters in the city on 8 March.

According to the sister of the deceased, the last time she spoke to Eduardo was on 21 or 22 February because he had to send some papers off to continue receiving his pension. "As he had no address, all his correspondence came to me", she explained. They arranged to meet on 27 February at Tiburón bar, in Calle Sevilla, but 'Cogote' didn't show up. The waiter confirmed that he was a regular customer and used to go there every day, but that on that day he did not go to the bar.

Manuela claims that she also went to the place where he usually had lunch, but she did not find him either. After looking for him everywhere, on 29 February she went to the police station to report Eduardo's disappearance. Apparently, according to her version of events, she was unable to file a report. "An officer told me that my brother was of age. But what if something had happened to him, or if he is lying in a field?," she asked.

Before leaving, Manuela questioned the officer if her brother was in jail, as he had previously been in trouble with the law - he was released from prison on 23 February 2023 - and did not lead a very orderly life. The officer confirmed that he was not in custody and, she said, advised her to try the prison authorities. He was not there either.

Missing posters

Eduardo's sister said that she put up 'missing' posters around the city to see if anyone had seen him or knew anything about him. Finally, on 8 March, she returned to the police station to insist on filing the missing person report. This time the force did make efforts to locate Eduardo. However, police sources have since explained that there is no database that allows them to consult the list of people who have died due to natural causes.

While the homicide agents began to make efforts to find out the whereabouts of 'Cogote', Manuela went to the health centre where her brother used to go for methadone, as he was undergoing detoxification treatment because he had been a drug addict. There, after much insistence, and after showing the missing person report, they found that Eduardo Jiménez was no longer registered as an active user of the Social Security system because he was dead. In fact, as Manuela would later discover, he had even been buried.

Natural causes

It turned out Eduardo had died several days earlier. Specifically, on 29 February. The person who had taken Eduardo into their home found his body that morning and alerted police. A patrol went to the scene, as did the health services, who certified that he had died of natural causes. As a result, the judicial protocol was not activated. A forensic doctor did not attend, nor was the court informed of the death.

Police sources have clarified that the officers interviewed the person who Eduardo lodged with, and he told them that he had taken Eduardo in because he had nowhere to live and he had no family either. The steps the officers took to verify this proved "fruitless" and, police stressed, no relatives of the deceased were located. "From that moment on, as it was a natural death, the situation of the deceased became the responsibility of social affairs," sources at the police station said.

At 11.15am on 29 February, the social services department of the City Hall gave Parcemasa permission to remove the body, and from then on it was treated as a charity burial, paid for by municipal coffers. Eduardo's body remained in the Parcemasa facilities for two days - often in these cases the process is usually delayed a little in case a family member turns up - until he was finally buried on 2 March.

Cemetery

"So I go to the cemetery to see that my brother is stuck in a hole? Where are his belongings? It's not right. I'm going to ask a judge to open that niche," warned Manuela, who has gained the support of SOS Desaparecidos, the organisation she appealed to on 8 March to distribute the poster with Eduardo's photo and help her in her search.

SOS Desaparecidos said it considers this situation "unusual" and, as well as showing its concern about what has happened, has sent a letter to the Ministry of the Interior asking for clarification of the circumstances of the case. "We have already received several calls from relatives of other missing persons asking if the same thing could have happened to them," said a spokesperson for the group.

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