Isaías José Suárez, a street recycler living in the low-income neighborhood of Barrio 31 in Buenos Aires City, was arrested on Monday for the murder of engineer Mariano Barbieri during a mugging in Palermo last week.
According to official sources, police were able to identify and arrest the 29-year-old Suárez based on testimony from a witness of undisclosed identity who said that he had heard the accused “boasting” about the crime. The witness’ description of Suárez’s clothing also matched that of a man captured on security footage near the crime scene shortly after the murder.
Police had previously arrested a homeless Venezuelan national after he was seen with a red jacket similar to the one spotted on camera. Both men will be questioned by prosecutor Marcelo Munilla Lacasa and judge Susana Berna of the 36th National Criminal and Correctional Prosecutor’s Office.
Inside the cart Suárez used to collect cardboard and other material for recycling, police found a sports cap and a scarf that were also identified in the security footage. These items, as well as the pieces of clothing, had stains on them that investigators suspect could be blood and are now being tested to see if they match the victim’s.
A knife found at the scene with traces of blood and partial fingerprints was also sent to a lab for analysis.
Although Suárez’s official residence is in the Greater Buenos Aires suburb of Grand Bourg, sources confirm that he spent last weekend in Barrio 31 due to the heavy rains that impeded him from either working or returning home. According to the witness’ testimony, Suárez spoke with a neighbor, acknowledging that an incident had taken place.
“I screwed up, a guy stood up to me and fought back,” he allegedly said after stealing Barbieri´s cellphone, which has not been found. Police are currently searching Suárez’s home in Grand Bourg for more evidence.
Barbieri, 42, died on Wednesday night after at least one person stabbed him in the chest and stole his cellphone as he was walking through the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Palermo. Although Barbieri managed to ask for help at an ice cream parlor in the area, he died on arrival at the hospital.
The attack took place around 10.45 p.m. in the Plaza Sicilia area, near the city’s Japanese Garden.
Barbieri’s murder indirectly led to BA City mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta firing Security Minister Eugenio Burzaco after leaked videos that showed him attending a US Open tennis match in New York ignited public outcry. Larreta thanked the work of city police on Tuesday and indicated that Security Minister Gustavo Coria will hold a press conference with further information about the case.
– with information from Télam