DNA evidence links suspect to slain French women

12th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

DNA test results have linked a second suspect to the murders of two French women traveling in Argentina, authorities announced on Monday.

The genetic test results have established a definitive match linking suspect Santos Vera, 37 to evidence retrieved from the body of one of the murdered women.

Vera, a gardener by trade, is one of three main suspects in the crime, in which vacationing students Cassandre Bouvier, 29, and Houria Moumni, 24, were sexually assaulted and murdered while traveling in Argentina.

Officials said Vera already had confessed during questioning last month to participating in the assault.

"The genetic material in Cassandre's body belongs to Vera," said Marcelo Baez, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office. DNA test results also confirmed an earlier match between another prime suspect, Gustavo Lasi, 24, and semen found in Bouvier's body.

Lasi last month admitted that he had been at the scene of the crime after DNA evidence linked him to the sexual assault of Moumni.

Earlier ballistics evidence already showed that a rifle belonging to Lasi was one of two weapons used in the murders, according to police.

Police so far have made no DNA match linking a third suspect, Danile Vilte, 23, to the French women's rapes and murders.

But Baez said there are evidence samples that have not yet been tested and said authorities "have not ruled out his participation" in the crimes.

The two women's bodies were found on July 29 in the San Lorenzo nature preserve of northwestern Argentina.

The double murder has shocked residents of nearby Salta, an otherwise quiet city of 650,000 that depends heavily on tourism.

Several people have been detained in the course of the investigation, including Gustavo Lasi's uncle, Enrique Lasi, who has been charged with helping hide the murder weapon.

Others accused of concealing evidence in the case include the younger Lasi's girlfriend Maria Fernanda Canizares, 24, her brother Federico Canizares, 23, and tour guide Omar Ramos, 47.

Argentina's President Christina Kirchner is currently in France, where she was due to meet with Cassandre Bouvier's father on Monday.

On Wednesday Kirchner was to have a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whom she was to give an update on the progress of the murder investigation.

© 2011 AFP

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