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CRIME

DNA clue leads to arrest over brutal murder of teenage girl 18 years ago

The mystery of who murdered 16-year-old Eva Blanco Puig in Madrid almost two decades ago appeared to be solved thanks to DNA profiling resulting in the arrest of a man in France.

DNA clue leads to arrest over brutal murder of teenage girl 18 years ago
Photo: Guardia Civil

The brutal rape and murder of the popular high-school student as she walked home after a night out with friends in the quiet Madrid suburb of Algete on April 20th, 1997, had shocked the local community and made headlines across Spain.

Eva was raped, stabbed in the back and then dumped in scrubland near a roundabout on Madrid’s M-100 highway and the police made it a priority to find her killer, pursuing more than 100 lines of inquiry in the intervening years.

Police initially took DNA samples of dozens of men in the area including relatives, friends and acquaintances of Eva and her family but to no avail.

Repeated appeals had over the subsequent years done little to further investigations until three years ago when advances in DNA profiling matched semen found inside her body to someone likely to have his origins in North Africa.

Then in September after exhaustive comparison to more than 2000 samples of DNA  taken during the investigation alongside a crosschecking of all those of Maghrebi origin known to be in the area in 1997 the police came up with a gentic profile that led them to their suspect.

 The accused is reported to have lived for a short time with his brother in Algete around the time of Eva's murder and worked in construction where he may have come across Eva’s father, who had a crane company.

On Thursday a 52-year-old man Ahmed Chelh was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant in Pierrefontaine-les-Varans, a town in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France near the Swiss border.

The man, of Moroccan origin with Spanish nationality was married with children and had left Spain in 1999.

Eva’s parents were informed of the arrest on Thursday bringing an end to 18 years of anguish.

“It was a very emotional moment; the captain also got emotional when he told us about the arrest. He started to cry,” Olga Puig, Eva’s mother, told El País.

“Now I hope that justice will be done and that this man pays for everything he did to my daughter.

“It looks like God has heard me and given me some joy after so many years of suffering,”

Both her and Manuel Blanco joined the Interior Minister at a press conference on Friday to congratulate police on the arrest.

 
 

TAX FRAUD

Spanish court orders Shakira to stand trial in tax fraud case

A Spanish court has ordered Colombian music superstar Shakira to stand trial in a tax fraud case at a date yet to be determined, court documents showed on Tuesday.

Spanish court orders Shakira to stand trial in tax fraud case

Prosecutors in Barcelona said in July they would seek a prison sentence of more than eight years against the singer and a fine of nearly €24 million ($24 million), after she rejected a plea deal over accusations of tax evasion.

They accuse the 45-year-old “Hips don’t Lie” songstress of defrauding the Spanish tax office of €14.5 million ($14.7 million) on income earned between 2012 and 2014.

Prosecutors say Shakira moved to Spain in 2011 when her relationship with FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique became public but maintained official tax residency in the Bahamas until 2015.

The couple, who have two children, announced their separation in June. On September 19, a Barcelona court ordered the singer to stand trial for six tax crimes, according to a court ruling made public on Tuesday.

In an interview published in Elle magazine last week, Shakira said she was confident she had behaved correctly and did not owe the Spanish tax office anything.

“These accusations are false,” she said.

“While Gerard and I were dating, I was on a world tour. I spent more than 240 days outside Spain, so there was no way I qualified as a resident,” she added.

“The Spanish tax authorities saw that I was dating a Spanish citizen and started to salivate. It’s clear they wanted to go after that money no matter what.”

Shakira’s lawyers have said that until 2014 she earned most of her money from international tours, moved to Spain full time only in 2015 and has met all her tax obligations.

The singer says she has paid €17.2 million to Spanish tax authorities and has no outstanding debts.

She argues Spanish prosecutors are trying to claim money she earned during her international tour and from her participation on the show “The Voice”.

She was a judge on the show in the United States, when she says she was not yet resident in Spain.

A Barcelona court in May dismissed an appeal from the singer to drop the charges.

Shakira was named in one of the largest ever leaks of financial documents in October 2021, known as the “Pandora Papers”, among public figures linked to offshore assets.

With her mix of Latin and Arabic rhythms and rock influence, three-time Grammy winner Shakira scored major global hits with songs such as “Hips don’t Lie”, “Whenever, Wherever” and “Waka Waka”, the official song of the 2010 World Cup.

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