Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina convicts 10 in Marita Veron sex trafficking case

In this picture released by Susana Trimarco taken in 2002, Ms Trimarco, right, poses with her daughter Marita Veron and her granddaughter Micaela, daughter of Marita
Image caption Marita Veron (left) disappeared when she was 23, leaving behind her daughter Micaela (middle) and her mother Susana (right)

A court in Argentina has convicted 10 people for the kidnapping and sexual exploitation of Marita Veron, who has been missing since 2002.

The court in north-western Tucuman province overturned a 2012 ruling which had acquitted all 13 defendants in the case of human trafficking.

Ms Veron's mother, Susana Trimarco, had appealed against the ruling, which had triggered protests in Argentina.

The court upheld the acquittal of two defendants. Another died in February.

The tribunal in Tucuman said that four of the defendants had conspired to "hold and conceal [Ms Veron] for the exercise of prostitution".

Six more had "participated" in her abduction and forced prostitution, the judges said.

Desperate search

Marita Veron disappeared from the city of San Miguel de Tucuman in 2002, when she was 23 years old.

Image caption The acquittal of the 13 defendants in 2012 led to violent protests

She had been on her way to a local hospital for a medical appointment.

Sex workers reported spotting her in several locations in the country, where they said she was forced to prostitute herself.

Her mother launched a campaign to find her and the case soon became a symbol of the fight against human trafficking in Argentina.

During her search, Ms Trimarco infiltrated herself into human-trafficking gangs pretending to be interested in "buying" women.

The information she gathered led to police raids in which dozens of sexually exploited women were rescued.

However she has not been able to find her daughter and it is not clear whether Ms Veron is still alive.

Ms Trimarco's campaign also led to the passage of legislation making human trafficking a crime in Argentina.

The acquittal of the 13 defendants in the case in December 2012 caused outrage in Argentina, with thousands taking to the streets of San Miguel and the capital, Buenos Aires, in protest.

The judges ruled at the time that there was not enough evidence to connect the defendants to Ms Veron.

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