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French tourist murders: Trial begins in Argentina

Three men went on trial in Argentina on Tuesday for the rape and murder of two young French tourists whose bodies were found in a scenic park overlooking the north western city of Salta.

French tourist murders: Trial begins in Argentina
The coffins with the remains of the two murdered French women Houria Moumni and Cassandre Bouvier are carried from the funeral parlor to a funeral depot in Salta. Photo: AFP

About 200 people are to testify before three judges in the trial, which is expected to conclude May 16.

The three accused – Gustavo Lasi, 27, Daniel Vilte, 28, and Santos Vera, 34 – were led into the courtroom in handcuffs to hear the charges against them.

They listened impassively as the mother of one of the victims, 29-year-old Cassandre Bouvier, spoke about her daughter in a barely audible voice, asking that "justice be done."

"She would have been 32. But her path was crossed by the wickedness, the barbarism, the monstrousness that humanity is capable of," said Helen Kottak.

Bouvier and Houria Moumni, 24, were last seen as they entered La Quebrada de San Lorenzo park overlooking Salta in the afternoon of July 15, 2011.

They were found shot to death July 29, their partially clad bodies dumped near a scenic overlook in the park.

Lasi, a former city employee and occasional guide at the park, is the primary suspect.

DNA tests linked him to the women's rape.

He has acknowledged sexually assaulting them, but insists he did not kill them, blaming the other two suspects for their murders.

Vilte, a bricklayer, and Vera, a groundskeeper, deny any connection to the crime.

The three have been in preventative detention since 2011.

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TRIAL

Ghosn trial may be delayed until next year: Japanese media

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn's trial, which was expected to begin in September, will be delayed, local media said Saturday, hinting that it may not start this year.

Ghosn trial may be delayed until next year: Japanese media
Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn leaving a detention centre on Thursday. Photo: Behrouz Mehri / AFP
The 65-year-old tycoon, currently on bail, is preparing for his trial on four charges of financial misconduct ranging from concealing part of his salary from shareholders to syphoning off Nissan funds for his personal use.
   
The Tokyo District Court had proposed to start his trial in September during its pre-trial meetings with his defence lawyers and prosecutors, news reports said, quoting unnamed sources.
   
But the court told the lawyers and prosecutors on Friday that it had retracted the plan without proposing a new time frame, Kyodo News said, adding that the move could mean the trial will not start this year.
   
The court also decided not to separate the trial for Ghosn, his close aide Greg Kelly and Nissan — all indicted on the charge of violating the financial instruments law by underreporting Ghosn's compensation, according to Kyodo.
   
His lawyers have so far demanded he be tried separately from Nissan and have voiced fears he will not receive a fair trial.
   
The Sankei Shimbun also said prosecutors gave up filing an appeal to the Supreme Court against his bail, a move to erasing a chance of his return to jail unless he is arrested again on fresh charges. Immediate confirmation of the news reports was not available.
   
On Thursday, Ghosn exited his Tokyo detention centre after accepting bail of $4.5 million under strict conditions, including restrictions on seeing his wife.
   
His case has captivated Japan and the business community with its multiple twists and turns, as well as shone a spotlight on the Japanese justice system which critics say is overly harsh.
   
Ghosn denies all the charges, with a spokesperson for the executive saying on Monday he would “vigorously defend himself against these baseless accusations and fully expects to be vindicated”.
   
In a statement hours after his release, Ghosn said: “No person should ever be indefinitely held in solitary confinement for the purpose of being forced into making a confession.”
   
The dramatic case has thrown international attention onto the Japanese justice system, derided by critics as “hostage justice” as it allows prolonged detention and relies heavily on suspects' confessions.
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