Murdered Teen’s Family Breaks Ground on Failings of Emergency Calls

(CN) — The family of a Lithuanian teen who was raped and burned alive in a car trunk cleared a hurdle Thursday in their legal battle over national services that failed to get the girl help when she made 10 emergency calls during her kidnapping.

ES, as the victim is described in the ruling, was abducted on Sept. 21, 2013, at about 6 a.m. Details of the case are sparse in Thursday’s ruling, but foreign press reports say the girl had been waiting for a bus in Dembava, a suburb of Panevezys, Lithuania, when she was forced into a car and raped. ES later found herself locked in the car’s trunk. She used her cellphone to call the international emergency number 112, but police were unable to locate her because the answering center did not display the number from which she was calling.

Relatives of the teen now seek damages from Lithuania, saying the country is at fault for failing to implement the EU’s Universal Service Directive, which otherwise mandates that national emergency authorities obtain location information from 112 callers.

Before the case goes to trial in Lithuania, however, the court put the case on hold to seek input on what EU law requires.

Siding with the family Thursday, the Fourth Chamber of the European Court of Justice ruled that all phone operators in the EU must provide location information on 112 callers, regardless of whether the calls come from a phone with a SIM card.

The Luxembourg-based court called it unacceptable that implementation of 112 requirements would exclude mobile phones not fitted with a SIM card. As for the discretion member states enjoy when it comes to ensuring that location information about 112 callers is accurate and reliable, the court ruled that national courts must determine the criteria at issue.

The ruling concludes with the court saying that Lithuania could be held liable if it is determined that its breach of EU law played an indirect role in the death of ES.

To date, investigators have been unable to determine whether the phone ES used “was fitted with a SIM card or why her number was not visible at the emergency call answering center,” according to the ruling.

According to the European Emergency Number Association, France and another seven of the EU’s 28 member states do not allow phones without a SIM card to make 112 calls — the logic being that children playing with old mobile phones might call the emergency services number accidentally.

Agence France-Presse noted that other countries to have adopted the 112 number alongside their own national emergency numbers, include Australia, China, India, Turkey and the United States. A Lithuanian press report says the two men who killed ES were caught and sentenced to life in prison. 

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