Breakthrough in Argentina tourist deaths

2011-08-16 10:04

Salta - Argentina police have matched DNA found on the bodies of two murdered French tourists to one of eight detained suspects, authorities said late on Monday.

Hikers discovered the bodies of French university students Houria Moumni, aged 24, and Cassandre Bouvier, aged 29, on July 29 in the San Lorenzo nature reserve overlooking the northern city of Salta, capital of the state of the same name.

One of the women was shot in the head and apparently sexually abused. The other was shot in the back, and two witnesses have told investigators they heard gunshots on July 16 near where the bodies were found.

Police found the .22 calibre weapon allegedly used in the shootings in the home of a neighbour of one of the suspects, but on Thursday said they believe, based on ballistic evidence, that two weapons were used.

Marcelo Baez, a spokesperson for the local prosecutor's office, said on Monday that investigators had matched hair and semen samples from the scene of the crime to the genetic profile of one of the detainees and would unveil the results on Tuesday, without providing further details.

The murders have shocked residents of Salta, an otherwise quiet city of 650 000 which depends heavily on tourism.