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Argentina rocked by murder of activist who fought sexist violence

Main suspect of killing 21-year-old Micaela García is a serial rapist who was out on parole

Argentinean society has been stunned by the murder of a young activist from the Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) movement, which brought global visibility to the problem of femicide in the South American country. Micaela García, 21, was found dead on Saturday after being missing for a week. The main suspect, a man named Sebastián Wagner, had been convicted in 2012 for two rapes, but was released on parole under a year ago – a fact that President Mauricio Macri himself has criticized.

Micaela Garcia
A march on Saturday to protest Micaela’s death. EFE

García went missing on April 1 as she was leaving a nightclub in Gualeguay, a municipality in the province of Entre Ríos, 230 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. Surveillance cameras show that the victim was followed by a car registered in Wagner’s name. The 30-year-old suspect fled the city the next day.

On Friday of last week, some of the suspect’s relatives told the police that he was hiding out at a house in Buenos Aires province, the daily La Nación reported. He was arrested at the site.

Her decomposed body was located next to a tree outside Gualeguay

Some of the victim’s clothes had been found that same day. Her decomposed body was located next to a tree outside Gualeguay.

The case sparked outrage in several cities across the country. There were protest marches over the weekend in Buenos Aires, Rosario, Santa Fe and smaller municipalities. Organizers included Ni Una Menos, a group that the victim was an active member of.

“Micaela wanted a fairer society, and we will not give up that fight,” said Sandra Miguez, a journalist and spokeswoman for a group called Network of Journalists with a Gender Vision, in statements to the news agency Telam.

Micaela García wearing an anti-femicide tee-shirt.
Micaela García wearing an anti-femicide tee-shirt. Facebook

The victim’s mother has written on her Facebook account that she will keep fighting for her daughter’s ideals, and called for a tribute to be held this coming Tuesday.

On Sunday, President Macri suggested that Carlos Rossi, the judge who released the main suspect in the case, should be removed from his post. “We cannot have this type of judge,” he told a local radio station.

Justice Minister Germán Garavano has added that if Rossi does not resign, “the Council of the Judiciary should remove him,” according to the news agency Efe.

Argentinean media have reported that when the judge decided to grant Wagner parole, he ignored a report from the provincial penitentiary services warning that the intern was not respecting prison rules or participating in proposed activities.

There is a femicide every 30 hours in Argentina. Last year, 290 women were murdered across the country.

English version by Susana Urra.

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