Tuesday, July 23, 2024

ARGENTINA | 25-01-2024 15:24

Remaining three of four suspects at large arrested for killing of nine-year-old

Suspect Axel Rojas identified as likely shooter of nine-year-old girl Umma Aguilera; Two remaining fugitive also detained by police.

Security Minister Patricia Bullrich has confirmed that the three suspects who remained at large following the killing of a nine-year-old in Lomas da Zamora have been arrested. 

Youngster Umma Aguilera, the daughter of a member of Bullrich’s personal security detail, was killed in Lomas de Zamora on Monday after she was shot in the head. 

The child’s parents, both in the police force, tried to escape in their car from an attempted mugging and were attacked from another vehicle, according to government sources.

The child’s father, Eduardo Aguilera, is a federal policeman who forms part of Bullrich's security team. 

According to an autopsy report, Umma died violently after taking a bullet to the skull. It entered and exited, leading to encephalic lesions.

In addition to a shot in the back of her head, the girl was also shot in her hand.

Police reported on Tuesday that a 22-year-old man had been arrested and said they are looking for three other accomplices. Bullrich confirmed Thursday that the trio have all been detained.


Prime suspect

Police sources said the prime suspect is Axel Emiliano Rojas, 20, a.k.a. “Pelusa.” He was arrested in San Pedro and is awaiting questioning by the case prosecutor.

Investigators believe Rojas fired the two shots at the car that caused Umma’s death.

As part of the operation, a vehicle was seized which is in a dilapidated state found at a nearby petrol station after being abandoned by Rojas moments before he was captured.

According to investigators, the car might have been used by the fugitive after committing the crime. It is believed that during the journey between Villa Fiorito, where he lives, and San Pedro, he conducted various manoeuvres to avoid being detected by the different digital sensors and licence readers of the respective cities. 

“The Federal Police has already arrested another of Umma’s murderers. We told them they would pay one by one. Axel Emiliano Rojas is a child murderer. There’s no consolation, at least there will be justice,” Bullrich posted on her X account.

Rojas has not yet been formally indicted or stood trial.

Police said Thursday they were still looking for two other criminals on the run, one of which has been identified and his aunt and uncle’s house was recently searched unsuccessfully.

At press time, Bullrich confirmed that the two individuals – who have not yet been formally identified – had also been detained.

Crime on the agenda

The slaying of Umma Aguilera followed the violent deaths of two 16-year-olds in two incidents earlier this week, in Laferrere and Chascomús, also in Buenos Aires Province.

Argentina has one of the lowest murder rates in Latin America: 4.2 out of every 100,000 inhabitants, according to government data from 2022.

In mid-2023, insecurity was ranked as the second biggest concern among Argentines (38 percent), behind inflation (55 percent), according to a survey by Universidad de San Andrés.

An increase of murders and violent killing during robberies over the last few years has reignited debate about public safety and pushed the issue to the top of the political agenda.

Back in August, campaigning for the PASO primaries was briefly suspended for four days after the murder of an 11-year-old girl, who was attacked by two young men who took her backpack and beat her in the street in Lanús, Greater Buenos Aires.

Political leaders, social organisations and legal experts have regularly debated about the causes of the increase of common crimes, with potential reasons being the deteriorated socio-economic setting of ex-convicts, the lack of efficiency and proactive policing, corrupt judges and problems with the penitentiary system. 

Debate has re-opened in recent weeks about a potential push to lower the age of criminal responsibility from the current 16 years to 14 years. President Milei's justice minister trailed the idea last week and the libertarian leader's administration is planning to raise the issue once again.


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