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ARGENTINA | 11-05-2019 10:26

Six arrests as investigation into shock shooting near Congress progresses

Officials say at least six people have been detained for Thursday’s attack that seriously wounded UCR deputy Héctor Olivares and killed La Rioja provincial official Miguel Marcelo Yadón, including the alleged perpetrator.

Officials said yesterday at least six people have been detained for the brazen shooting attack near Congress on Thursday morning that seriously wounded a lawmaker and killed a provincial official. At least one was arrested on suspicion of carrying out the attack.

In dramatic scenes captured by CCTV cameras and later broadcast to the nation, Héctor

Olivares and Miguel Marcelo Yadón were fired upon as they walked near the National Congress building in the capital by gunmen in a parked car. Olivares, a national deputy for La Rioja (UCR-Radical), remains in a critical condition after undergoing emergency surgery after the attack at the Ramos Mejía Hospital, treating gunshot wounds that pierced his abdomen and affected vital organs.Yadón, a transport employee for the La Rioja provincial government, died quickly from the wounds he sustained in the attack.

“We are waiting for the opportune moment to put him [Olivares] through another surgery,” a hospital official said yesterday. “He is depending on life support that he is receiving in intensive care.”

Officials said Friday the case had no political connotations, despite the identity of the victims. The two men, said to have been close friends since their teenage years, were shot at least six times by a .40-calibre pistol as they walked in the streets near Congress.

‘PERSONAL’

Arrests began Thursday evening as local TV broadcast images late Thursday night of federal police officers escorting a man suspected of having links to the attack from his apartment into a police car. His face was covered by a hood, and authorities did not release any other details.

“The case is clear and we have confirmed that it was not a political crime. The target of the murder was Yadón,” Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told A24 TV yesterday. “We have a hypothesis about it being a purely personal attack.”

Security Ministry Cabinet Chief Gerardo Milman told local TV on Friday that Juan Jesús Fernández, a 42-year-old street vendor known as ‘el Gitano’, had been arrested in Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Ríos Province.

He said Fernández was probably “trying to cross” into the neighbouring country of Uruguay when police recognised him. The suspect was travelling with another man who was also arrested but not identified.

Fernández’s daughter, Estefanía Fernández, and three others were also taken into custody separately. Two of those were later identified as Luis Cano and Rafael Cano Caramona, the brother-in-law of the alleged attacker. All those arrested – some of whom are Spanish citizens – are part of “a family clan” that has gypsy origins, Milman said.

Juan Jesús Fernández is the owner of the car from which the gunmen launched their attack, which took place just 300 metres from Congress, in the centre of Buenos Aires.

Cano Caramona, who was authorised to drive the vehicle for work purposes, is believed to have initially parked the car before the attack.

Cano is believed to have been one of the individuals involved in the attack. Some outlets yesterday suggested he had collected bullet casings after the shooting.

Unconfirmed reports in local outlets suggested the trigger for the attack may have been a relationship between Yadón, a coordinator who worked in the trust fund of La Rioja’s federal electric transportation system,and Estefanía Fernández.

BRAZEN ATTACK

Government officials had vowed to do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice on Thursday, as politicians from across the political spectrum denounced the attack.

“We’re moved by this attack,” President Mauricio Macri said in a televised address, during which he expressed condolences to Yadón’s family. “We’re praying for Héctor’s life ... We will do everything to find out what happened and find out who is guilty of this.”

Olivares, 61, and Yadón, 58, were fired upon around 7amlocal time as they took a walk.

Local media initially reported that the two men had been shot from a moving vehicle, but a surveillance video of the shooting released by the Security Ministry showed a parked car waiting for them.

As the duo walk by, they’re seen being shot at close range. Yadón collapses on the sidewalk, while an injured Olivares tries to get up and holds up his arms in a desperate cry for help.

The attackers, however, don’t immediately flee the scene. A burly man in the driver’s seat, believed to be Juan Jesús Fernández, then steps out of the car and paces. Another man also steps out and walks away calmly. When a police officer arrives on the scene, the car drives away slowly.

Speaking Thursday, Bullrich said police had found the car used in the crime, adding that the shooting “confirms the presence of mafias in our country.”

“Yadón was killed from a car that was waiting for him,” Bullrich said at a press conference. “They shot the main target, which was Yadón; they achieved his murder and, having the opportunity to murder Olivares, they decide not to kill him.”

As well as belonging to the Radicals – part of President Macri’s ruling Cambiemos coalition – Olivares is also part of the Transport Committee in the lower house Chamber of Deputies. Before he was shot, he had been discussing a bill against the barra bravas, Argentina’s infamous football hooligans.

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