Bodies of missing Australian university professor and her sister found in Argentina | World news

The remains of an Australian university professor and her sister have been discovered in a shallow grave near the city of Mendoza, Argentinian authorities say.

Autopsy results released Sunday showed that at least one of the two had been shot.

The bodies of 54-year-old Australian scientist Lily Pereg and her 63-year-old sister Pirhya Sarussi of Israel were found Saturday on a lot beside the home of Sarussi’s son Gilad Pereg, according to prosecutor Claudia Rios, who confirmed 36-year-old Gilad Sarussi was arrested on homicide charges.

Australian Associated Press reported he had been charged with murder.

The local newspaper Jornada said authorities hadn’t yet determined which of the bodies belonged to which of the victims, but it said one had received three gunshots and the other showed signs of being dragged.

The two sisters reportedly went to Mendoza to visit Pereg, who had lived in Argentina for more than 10 years.

Gilad Pereg is arrested on homicide charges in Mendoza, Argentina.



Gilad Pereg is arrested on homicide charges near the city of Mendoza, Argentina. Photograph: Patricio Caneo/AP

The two women vanished about two weeks ago, and colleagues of Dr Pereg opened a GoFundMe page to raise money for a search.

Relative Vered Sarusi had been pleading with the public for information on Facebook since the sisters were last heard from on 11 January.

The University of New England said Dr Pereg was a microbial ecologist with a 25-year research experience in plant and soil microbiology. She chaired the soil, microbiology and biodiversity subdivision of the European Geosciences Union.

Dr Pereg obtained a PhD from the University of Sydney in 1998 and gained postdoctoral experience from the Institute for Genetics at the University of Cologne in Germany before joining UNE in 2001.

Argentinian newspaper La Nación reported that Gilad Pereg, a software engineer who goes by the name Nicolás Gil Pereg, lived an almost destitute existence in a semi-abandoned property in the Guaymallén area, and had 40 registered firearms.

Police work in the lot next to the home of Gilad Pereg where the bodies of his mother and aunt were found on Saturday.



Police work in the lot next to the home of Gilad Pereg where the bodies of his mother and aunt were found on Saturday. Photograph: Gustavo Roge/AP

According to the report, his house had no furniture and he subsisted on dietary supplements. Numerous cats were found on the property, including some that were dead.

During the two weeks his mother and aunt were missing, Gilad Pereg told the media the area where he lived was unsafe, that crime was “the order of the day” in Mendoza, and that he had been the victim of more than 50 robberies, the newspaper said.

He maintained that “something bad” had happened to his relatives by “bad people” when they went to the bus stop, and that they had been kidnapped.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs has been contacted for comment.

Associated Press and Australian Associated Press contributed to this report

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