Argentine police are continuing their investigation into the death of 16-year-old Anahi Benitez, who was found dead on Friday in the Santa Catalina Nature Reserve in Buenos Aires.
Femicide Case Rocks Argentina as Rights Activists Demand Justice
The victim’s teacher, Leonardo Agostino, was released from detention Tuesday and another suspect, Marcos Esteban Bazan, has been detained and is scheduled to testify, La Nacion reported. Despite his release, Agostino remains an active suspect in the investigation and must notify judicial authorities if he plans to leave the area for more than 24 hours.
Investigators have now turned their attention to Bazan, 34, who lives just over 900 feet away from the location where Benitez was found.
Women’s clothes, a shovel, a cell phone, bloodstains and hair were reportedly found in and around the suspect’s home. The alleged murder suspect, however, maintains that the clothes, hair and bloodstains belong to his girlfriend.
DNA samples are currently being tested by forensic experts
Bazan became a primary suspect after a police canine unit tracked Benitez’s scent to his house, which allegedly had a refrigerator containing rice and mixed vegetables — the same meal the victim ingested prior to her death.
Bazan also has a criminal record — he was charged in 2003 and 2013 for narcotics production and possession on his property.
It was first thought, based on evidence from Benitez’s personal diary and her social media accounts, that Agostino could be her murderer. He was detained on Saturday for questioning and released three days later for “lack of merit” after testifying before prosecutor Veronica Perez, who specializes in gender violence.
Macri’s Minister Compares Abortion to Femicide, Sparks Outrage
Whether Agostino is connected to Bazan, however, remains unknown.
Following the discovery of Benitez’s body, hundreds of activists took to the streets to protest her murder and demand that the government implement policies to combat femicide. Friends and relatives of the victim took part in a march last week from the Antonio Mentruyt School in Banfield to the Lomas de Zamora municipality, denouncing the lack of security in the areas.
Two days later, the Buenos Aires Ministry of Security announced a reward of US$17,000 for information about Anahi’s death.
In Argentina, a new case of femicide is reported every 30 hours, according to government statistics. In 2016 alone, there were 235 murders of young girls and women.