US fugitive held over husband's murder

2013-07-01 14:08

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Kingston — A woman accused of hiring someone to kill her wealthy Canadian husband on the US Caribbean island of Puerto Rico was arrested on Sunday by police in Spain after being sought for five years in the alleged murder-for-hire scheme, according to the FBI.

Moises Quinones, the FBI's spokesperson in Puerto Rico, said Aurea Vazquez Rijos was arrested by the Spanish police at an airport in Madrid. The Puerto Rican suspect was taken into custody as she was getting off a flight from Italy, where she has lived for years and gave birth to another man's twins.

A US grand jury charged Vazquez in 2008 with offering a man $3m to kill her husband, real estate developer Adam Anhang. She denied the charges but refused to co-operate with investigators and fled Puerto Rico for Italy, where she lived in Florence and more recently Venice.

Abe Anhang, the victim's father, on Sunday said authorities told him that Vazquez's sister and her former husband have also been charged and arrested in Puerto Rico in connection with his son's killing in 2005.

"We're hopeful that after such a long time that justice will be done," Abe Anhang said by telephone from his home in Winnipeg. "It's been almost five years since she's been a fugitive in Italy."

After Anhang's murder, Vazquez refused to co-operate with investigators and filed a civil suit against her late husband's family, seeking $1m in damages and millions more from his estate. A judge in Puerto Rico dismissed her suit.

Wrongful conviction

Anhang, aged 32, was beaten and stabbed to death in a popular tourist district of the Puerto Rican capital in September 2005 as he walked with Vazquez. He was killed as the couple walked from a restaurant he had bought for her in historic Old San Juan where they discussed their pending divorce. She sustained minor injuries in the attack.

A wrongfully convicted Puerto Rican man spent eight months in a maximum security prison for the high-profile slaying of Anhang before getting released in June 2008 after another man, Alex Pabon Colon, was indicted for the murder. Since then, the FBI has been working to arrest Vazquez but ran into difficulties since Italy does not extradite suspects who face the death penalty.

According to the 2008 indictment, Vazquez offered Pabon money and lured Anhang to the tourist district the night of his death. The indictment said two other unidentified people were involved in the plot.

Anhang had developed beachfront condominiums and hotels in Puerto Rico and also was CEO of an online gambling software company based in Costa Rica. He had moved to Puerto Rico a year before the attack.

The FBI said the extradition process from Spain could take between six and nine months. The US agency said the arrest of the Puerto Rican fugitive was the result of a joint effort between the FBI's legal attaches, the US Attorney's Office in Puerto Rico, Spanish police, Interpol and US Department of Justice.

Read more on:    spain  |  us

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