MEXICO CITY, Mexico, Thurs. Feb 20, 2020 (Reuters) – Mexican authorities said on Wednesday they would soon issue arrest warrants for two people wanted for the murder of a 7-year-old girl in Mexico City, the latest in a series of killings that have unleashed outrage over growing violence against women.
Ulises Lara Lopez, spokesman for Mexico City’s attorney general, said a nighttime raid on a home in the southern part of the city turned up items that helped investigators identify the suspects, a man and a woman thought to be in a close relationship and working together.
The woman is believed to be the person who was seen accompanying 7-year-old Fatima Cecilia Aldrighett as she left school last week, the last time she was seen alive.
Officials are still investigating the man’s connection to the crime, Lara said. The maximum punishment for the kidnapping is up to 180 years in prison, he added.
Family members said hours were wasted after Aldrighett went missing outside her school on Feb. 11, and earlier calls to social services for help went unanswered.
When discovered over the weekend in a plastic garbage bag in the Tlahuac neighborhood, the girl’s body showed signs of torture and abuse.
Earlier this week, protesters gathered outside her home and school, while others took to social media to demand justice under the trending topic #JuticeForFatima.
In the wake of anger over her death, Mexico’s lower house of congress has proposed increasing the maximum prison sentence for femicide to 65 years, up from 60 years.
Lawmakers also sought to toughen penalties for sexual abuse of minors to a maximum of 18 years, up 13 years.
An average of 10 women a day are killed in Mexico and 2019, the first year of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government, marked a new overall homicide record. Victims of femicide increased 10% in 2019 to over 1,000.
Days before authorities disclosed the discovery of the girl’s body, women took to the National Palace to demand justice for the murder of 25-year-old Ingrid Escamilla, daubing the words “femicide state” in blood red on the door.
(Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher, Daina Beth Solomon and Raul Cortes; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)