Tuesday, July 16, 2024

ARGENTINA | 29-06-2024 15:23

Aunt of missing five-year-old child Loan testifies he was ‘run over’

Confession delivers unexpected twist in missing child case; Loan Danilo Peña, last seen two weeks ago, was “run over” by ex-Navy officer Carlos Pérez and ex-municipal employee María Victoria Caillava, says aunt; Police believe body may have been buried in cover-up.

Argentina’s government says it is confident it has uncovered the truth about the fate of a missing five-year-old boy, more than two weeks after he went missing in Corrientes Province.

Sources at the National Security Ministry confirmed to local news outlets on Saturday they believe Loan Danilo Peña was run over by two of the suspects who are detained by police.

Investigators had been probing reports that the child, who went missing in Corrientes Province on June 13, may have been trafficked over the border into Paraguay. 

But the case took an unexpected turn when Loan’s aunt testified in a lengthy hearing.

According to the Noticias Argentinas news agency, Laudelina Peña testified that the child was run over by two of the suspects already detained by police.

"A big step has been taken in the resolution of the Loan case," provincial Governor Gustavo Valdés said in a post on social media after news of the development broke.

Loan was last seen on Thursday, June 13, close to the town of 9 de Julio, near the district of Goya, Corrientes. A large search operation failed to turn up any sign of Loan.

The youngster had travelled out to the countryside with family members before sharing a lunch at his grandmother’s home. It was his first time visiting the home. 

After lunch, Loan went off walking to an orange grove with three adults (his uncle and two friends) and three other children (his cousins). The group lost sight of him.

In witness testimony, which lasted six hours before police in the district of Goya, Laudelina Peña alleged that former Navy officer Carlos Pérez and former municipal employee María Victoria Caillava had accidentally killed the child in a tragic accident that was later covered-up.”

Police now plan to carry out more searches to confirm the veracity of her statements.
"Laudelina testified before both the General Prosecutor's Office and the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Corrientes, and reportedly narrated the events of the Loan case. Everything that has been done is being sent to the Federal Justice so that it can proceed in accordance with the law," said Governor Valdés in a second post. 

According to Laudelina's testimony, at around 2.20pm on June 13, a van belonging to Pérez and Caillava unintentionally ran over Loan Danila Peña, who was returning to the family home from the orange grove. 

She reportedly said that the couple "were very nervous" in the aftermath and that she told him they were going to take the child to the hospital. The aunt said she did not know what had happened to the body but that she was asked “not to say anything.”

Police believe that the child’s body may have been buried by the couple.

Sources with the Security Ministry believe that the statement is truthful and plan to order more searches in the vicinity of 9 de Julio in a bid to uncover the body.

Patricia Bullrich, the head of the portfolio, is expected to travel to Corrientes to oversee the ongoing investigation.



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