The federal prosecutor investigating the killing of journalist Griselda Blanco in Corrientes Province says that WhatsApp chat messages are being probed to discover the extent of the relationship between the victim and a businessman being held by police.
Prosecutor María José Barrero Sahagún told local media that investigators are looking into allegations of “extortion” in communications between entrepreneur Darío Alfredo Ricardo Holzweissig and the victim, who was found strangled to death in her home on May 20.
"After many days collecting evidence, WhatsApp conversations which had been wiped started emerging and with the team we went recovering audios from the [mobile] telephone of the victim, material which had also been deleted," indicated the court official.
Blanco, 44, and Holzweissig, 46, are believed to have been former partners, both commercially and intimately.
The prosecutor pointed out that there are "strong indications" linking the restaurant and nightclub owner Holzweissig to Blanco's murder in Curuzú Cuatiá.
At the same time Barrero Sahagún said that the first individual arrested by police, Armando Jara, another former partner of Blanco, "is not ruled out of the case" because "there are still lines [of evidence] linking him" to the killing.
"I’m not ruling out anything, I have to make my accusation with absolute certainty," she concluded.
This latest line of investigation comes from security camera footage from areas close to the residences of both Blanco and Holzweissig. Images reportedly show the man returning home in the small hours of the night of the murder after loitering in the area. The businessman’s car, a Suzuki Fun, was also filled near the victim’s house at the estimated time of the crime.
The evidence was obtained by personnel of the Federal Police murder squad and prompted Barrero Sahagún to request Holzweissig’s arrest.
"The indications that these two persons [Holzweissig and Blanco] had a conflictive relationship are increasingly stronger and that could be the motive," remarked the prosecutor, while explaining that statements from the victim’s relatives had been fundamental in providing background.
The journalist had apparently been trying to blackmail Holzweissig, threatening to reveal their presumed relationship.
"Until now I have not obtained any solid evidence indicating to us that Blanco was murdered because of her journalistic work," explained the prosecutor, playing down rumours she may have been killed because of her reporting.
Arrested on the evening of May 25 and indicted for simple homicide, Holzweissig refused to testify before Caruzú Cuatiá prosecutor Barrero Sahagún. He faces a possible prison sentence of between eight and 25 years if found guilty.
The businessman’s home had been searched twice in the previous week but he was arrested on the emergence of evidence linking him to the murder.
Police forensic experts managed to access Blanco’s mobile telephone, on which they found some messages revealing tensions in the relationship.