Three arrested in Peru for the murder of Israeli journalist in Arequipa

Three men were arrested and charged with the rape and murder of a vacationing Israeli journalist after her partially burnt passport and Hebrew books were discovered buried in the back yard of one of the suspects, Peruvian newspapers reported Tuesday.

Tamar Shahak, 23, was half-way through an extended trip across South America when she was brutally murdered. During her compulsory military service in Israel, she served as an Army Radio broadcaster and producer. She then worked for the online “Walla” as a producer for its news service and the Israeli government’s Galei Tzahal Radio.

Police said the men, identified as Elvis Calcino Tito, Mario Huamán Vilca and Luis Alfredo Pumacota Paye devised an elaborate taxi driver scam to lure Shahak into their car, daily La Republica reported. She was found strangled to death May 1 in a field outside of the southern Andean city of Arequipa. The men are also accused of raping and murdering two local women, Juana Ari Apaza, 49, and Guisela Úrsula Ramos Loayza, 22.

All three men are allegedly members of the “Miguel Grau Sadists” gang.

A forensic examination of Tito’s rented car yielded hair identified as Ramos’ and traces of blood belonging to Shahak. The journalist’s burnt passport and Hebrew books were unearthed in Tito’s backyard, said National Police Colonel Rinksy Pinto.

Police also identified and seized another rented car, allegedly used to transport Shahak’s corpse to a remote area, in the district of Sachaca, where it was abandoned.

Shahak’s family has been notified, but her body is to remain in Peru as the investigation is pending, according to daily El Comercio. Police have six days to complete the interrogation and indentify any other possible suspects.

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