• France's news in English

New arrest in Argentina tourist murders

AFP · 3 Aug 2011, 10:58

Published: 03 Aug 2011 14:56 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Aug 2011 10:58 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Authorities have arrested a new suspect in the murders of two French women who were found shot to death in a nature preserve in northern Argentina, federal police announced Tuesday.

The man, who was not immediately identified, was arrested late Monday and was being questioned in the provincial capital of Salta by the investigating judge in the case, Martin Perez, a court official said.

The suspect was linked to the .22 caliber murder weapon, "possibly in its purchase or sale," a source close to Perez later told AFP.

The French women's bodies were found Friday by hikers on a trail in an area overlooking the city.

A man who rents horses to tourists in the area where the bodies were found, 43-year-old Francisco Tejada, who had been arrested Monday was later released for lack of evidence.

The victims – Houria Moumni, 24, and Cassandre Bouvier, 29 – were "brilliant students" of Latin American studies at the Sorbonne, the university's president Marie-Christine Lemardeley said.

They were believed to have been killed sometime last week after going on a hike in the rocky trails that offer panoramic views of Salta, some 1,600 kilometres north of Buenos Aires.

The two women entered the San Lorenzo Gorge on July 15, according to a park registry, but were believed to have been killed sometime between last Tuesday, July 26, and Thursday.

Police investigators searched the San Lorenzo Gorge area on Tuesday looking for any clue linked to the murders, a source close to Perez said.

The area contains an ecological reserve of lush vegetation at 1,300 metres above sea level where hundreds of tourists arrive daily for horseback riding or hikes.

One of the women was shot in the head and apparently sexually abused. The other was shot in the back. Relatives of the two women arrived in Salta on Tuesday where they were met by French consul general Patrick Flot.

The newspaper Clarin quoted a judicial source as saying Moumni, who was shot in the back while trying to flee, may have survived for hours before bleeding to death.

"Before being shot, Moumni was beaten and defended herself when her attacker was about to rape her. In fighting with her killer, she succeeded in breaking loose and began to run, trying to rapidly climb a hillside toward the path," the source was quoted as saying.

The source said investigators found a .22 calibre bullet where the women's bodies were found, which he said appeared to rule out the possibility they were killed elsewhere and then brought to the park.

Story continues below…

Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said his country was "appalled by the terrible crime," in a letter to his French counterpart Alain Juppe, adding authorities were "working hard on the case."

In Paris, French justice could open a preliminary investigation into the murders if their families give permission, an official said.

Tejada, the first suspect arrested, told AFP police used violence in an effort to force a confession. Sources said the investigating judge was looking into those allegations.

"They beat me all over my body in an effort to get me confess," he said. "I do not know why they tried to incriminate me. I have no weapons in my house."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What's on in France: Top things to do in November
Don't miss the chocolate fashion show in Lyon. Photo: Salon du chocolat

The autumn is in full swing in France, and there's plenty to do.

What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available