Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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LATIN AMERICA | 22-01-2020 09:57

Argentine who damaged Machu Picchu spared jail time

Nahuel Gómez pleads guilty to damaging the Peruvian cultural site. Because he has no prior record, he will only face fine and extended deportation, despite being sentenced to more than three years in prison.

A Peruvian court has sentenced Nahuel Gómez, the Argentine tourist who damaged the famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, to three years and four months in prison. However, he will serve his sentence in freedom, court officials said Tuesday.

According to Peruvian law, when a sentence is less than four years, the convicted does not go to prison if he has no prior record, but if he fails to comply with the conditions set by the court, he is subsequently imprisoned.

Gómez pleaded guilty in an abbreviated trial and may return to Argentina once he pays a fine of US$1,860 for damages caused to Peru’s main archeological and tourist attraction.

Five additional foreign tourists — one Argentine, one Chilean, and two Brazilians — were deported last Thursday and banned from entering Peru for 15 years for their role in the incident.

The Single Criminal Court of Machu Picchu sentenced Gómez to three years and four months in prison for damaging the cultural heritage of the nation through the destruction of pre-Hispanic assets, said Judge Melody Contreras in his sentence.

Gómez, who appeared before the judge with shaved hair and without the beard he wore when he was arrested, accepted the sentence.

The abbreviated trial was held on Friday in the town of Machu Picchu, near the Inca citadel, but the judiciary ruling was announced Tuesday.

The Argentine, who identified himself as a "traveller by trade", will be expelled from the country once he pays the fine and is expected to also be banned from returning to Peru for 15 years.

Once in Argentina, Gómez must comply with certain rules of conduct and report monthly to the Peruvian consulate in Salta for two years to check-in about his activities.

“I agree with the sentence and with the rules of conduct,” expressed Gómez, according to video footage.

The six tourists were detained in a restricted zone within the city, which they entered without payment. Gómez admitted to being the one who extracted a rock that, when falling from a six-meter wall, “caused a cleft in the floor” of the famous Temple of the Sun, dedicated to the most important Inca deity.

“The damage they caused is invaluable. They have broken the integrity of Machu Picchu,” lamented the boss of the archeologic park, José Bastante.

Machu Picchu sits on top of a 2,400-metre mountain, about 80 kilometres northwest of Cusco, the ancient Inca capital, in southeastern Peru.

— AFP

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