BUENOS AIRES – Four specialists will be sent to Ecuador to assist in the investigation of the murders of two young Argentine women in the Ecuadorian coastal town of Montañita, Argentine Federal Police officials said Thursday.
The specialists are being sent in response to a request from the families of the victims.
The team is traveling to Quito on Thursday to assist in the investigation, which is being conducted by Ecuadorian authorities.
The team, which is being led by inspector Francisco Daniel Guglielmo, includes evidence, chemical and forensic specialists.
The bodies of Marina Menegazzo, 21, and Maria Jose Coni, 22, were found last week in Montañita, a coastal town in western Ecuador.
On Tuesday, a judge has ruled that the two men arrested in connection with the killings should be held in preventive detention.
The two suspects met the young women and took them to a house, where they were killed, Ecuadorian 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.
President Rafael Correa said Wednesday on a radio show that the request for Argentine experts in the case “could be considered an insult to the country,” but he said it was understandable from the standpoint of the families.
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.
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.
A demonstration is planned on Thursday in Mendoza city to express support for the victims’ families and demand a thorough investigation of the killings.