Two new suspects in Argentina tourist murders

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Two more suspects were accused Tuesday of concealing the weapon used to kill two French women last month in northern Argentina, as prosecutors struggle to unravel the case.

Enrique Lasi, the uncle of prime suspect Gustavo Lasi, and Eduardo Sandoval appeared before Judge Martin Perez to answer charges that they "hid the weapon of the murder of the French students," said Salta court spokesman Marcelo Baez.

The bodies of tourists Cassandre Bouvier, 29, and Houria Moumni, 24, were found on July 29 in the San Lorenzo nature preserve of northwestern Argentina, where the two were on vacation.

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

Gustavo Lasi, 24, admitted Friday he had been at the scene of the crime after DNA evidence linked him to the sexual assault of Moumni.

DNA tests also showed that Bouvier was raped by several assailants before being fatally shot.

Three people were accused last week of concealing evidence: the younger Lasi's girlfriend Maria Fernanda Canizares, also 24, her brother Federico Canizares, 23, and tour guide Omar Ramos, 47.

The victims' photo camera and mobile phone were found at Maria Fernanda's home, her brother made calls with the phone and Ramos helped conceal the weapon, according to prosecutors.

Maria Fernanda remains in custody but the others have been freed.

Several people have been detained in the course of the investigation, including Santos Vera, 37, a gardener who has admitted to participating in the assault.

Officials, however, are still awaiting results from DNA tests on strands of hair that were found in the hands of one of the victims, presumably from one or more of the rapists.

Ballistics evidence had already shown that a rifle belonging to Lasi was one of two weapons used in the murders, according to police.

© 2011 AFP

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