Prosecutors in Salta have ordered the arrest of two brothers, after confirming on Wednesday that they suspect a French tourist, who has been missing since August in the province, was the victim of a homicide.
"There are indications to support the hypothesis of a crime of homicide, which has been attributed to two men who have been arrested," said prosecutor Ramiro Ossorio, during a press conference in Salta, about 1,600 kilometres north of Buenos Aires, the nation's capital.
Despite the arrests, the body of French citizen Mathieu Martin has not been found.
Martin, a 32-year-old backpacker and globetrotter, has been missing since August 8, earlier this year. He last seen travelling on foot in the region, hiking toward Iruya, a small town with a population of just over 1,000 people that sits around 2,700 metres above sea level and is popular with tourists.
The suspects were named in local media as two brothers, Juan and Froilán Cuevas, aged 39 and 41 respectively. The two, from Iruya, have been accused of homicide.
"Martin would have gone astray and [it is believed he] arrived at the house of the detainees in a mountain area called Huacamola," said Ossorio, suggesting the murder may have been part of a botched attempt to rob Martin.
A source in the prosecutor's office told the AFP news agency that the indictment "is based on a testimony from a sister of the detainees."
The backpacker is known to have set off from Tilcara, a city in the neighbouring Jujuy province that's well known to tourists for its proximity to the ruins of an Incan fortress. He did not have a mobile phone or GPS device, prosecutors told AFP.
Martin "communicated with a certain regularity with friends and relatives, who have already been informed" of developments in the case, the source added, confirming that suspicions that he had suffered a fatal accident or been the victim of a crime grew "when he stopped communicating."