June 28, 2010

Beauty queen acid attack 'linked to rival'


An investigative report by Colombian magazine Semana suggests that the assailants responsible for an acid attack on beauty pageant entrant Maria Fernanda Nuñez have links to one of her competitors.
The special report, released Saturday, explains that Nuñez was attacked with hydrochloric acid thrown at her face from soda bottles and that this type of acid can only be bought at certain places around the beauty queen's hometown of Cucuta.
Investigators visited each of these sites and found that one salesman had sold hydrochloric acid to a man wishing to carry it in plastic bottles. The man had said he would be using the acid to dye hair in his salon, despite warnings by the shop owner that it should not be used for such purposes.
Reporters were able to identify the man as Fabian Saez Ibañez, from information that he had provided when purchasing the acid. Saez's romantic partner Yesid Ramon Gomez is the cousin of beauty pageant contestant Carolina Gomez Gomez - a rival of the victim for the title of Miss Norte del Valle.
When questioned about her suspected role in the attack, Gomez said "I'm overwhelmed with this information, all I can say is that I am not suspicious of my cousin or his boyfriend," he says.
Authorities in Cucuta say they know the identity of the person who ordered an acid attack on Nuñez, but that they are unable to order the person's arrest. According to Colombian law, an attack suspect can only be arrested if the victim spends over thirty days in recovery. Although Nuñez suffered burns to the face and body, she was given just twenty days official recovery time by her doctor.
Police say they are awaiting evidence from forensics agency Medicina Legal in order to build a case against the suspected mastermind, so that they may be detained.
Nuñez, a beauty pageant contestant and Miss Colombia hopeful, was attacked by an unknown assailant three weeks ago. The 22-year-old had hydrochloric acid thrown at her face and suffered burns to the nose, lips, cheek, chest and right eye's cornea.
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