QUITO – A judge has ruled that the two men arrested in connection with the killings of two female Argentine tourists in Ecuador will be held in preventive detention, prosecutors said Tuesday.
The suspects, identified only as Segundo P. and Eduardo D., were arraigned on Tuesday, with prosecutors presenting technical and forensic evidence that “were crucial” in the judge’s ruling, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
The bodies of Marina Menegazzo, 21, and Maria Jose Coni, 22, were found last week in Montañita, a coastal town in western Ecuador.
The two suspects met the young women and took them to a house, where they were killed, police said.
The young women’s relatives have questioned Ecuadorian officials’ version of events and said the tourists may have been killed by a people trafficking ring.
Prosecutor Juan Pablo Arevalo, who is handling the case, told the court that Segundo P. implicated Eduardo D. in the killings, “saying that he was with him at the house where the crimes occurred.”
Investigators who searched Segundo P.’s house found “apparent traces of blood and objects that may have been used to commit the double murder, including a knife,” Arevalo said.
President Rafael Correa said Tuesday that if the law allowed it and the victims’ relatives made a request, Ecuador would let forensic specialists from Argentina investigate the killings.
The young women’s relatives, according to press reports in Argentina, have asked Argentine President Mauricio Macri to send a forensic team to Ecuador.
The request is “absolutely understandable,” Correa said in an interview with the Ecuadorian Radio Broadcasters Association.
Relatives in the Argentine province of Mendoza said over the weekend that they last heard from Menegazzo and Coni on Feb. 22.
The two tourists were in Montañita on that day and planned to leave for Lima, Peru, where they were scheduled to take a flight on Feb. 25 to Santiago, Chile, before returning to Mendoza by bus.
The Argentine tourists were robbed at one place they stayed, did not have any cash and were thinking about hitchhiking for part of their route, relatives said.