Story By: Ana Lacasa, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
An Argentine tourist who damaged and defecated on Machu Picchu has been handed a suspended prison sentence of three years and four months whilst another five tourists who sneaked into the site with him have been deported.
Nahuel Gomez, 28, pleaded guilty in a short trial and will return to Argentina after paying a fine of 1,860 USD (1,416 GBP) for the damage and insult caused to Peru’s most important tourist site, Machu Picchu, located in the Cusco Region.
He was arrested with five other tourists on suspicion of damaging and defecating on Machu Picchu.
The other five tourists who were also arrested with Gomez on 12 January, a French woman, another Argentine man, a Chilean man and two Brazilian nationals, were deported on Thursday and were banned from entering Peru for 15 years.
Gomez was singled out as the tourist who had removed the stone that caused a hole in the ground when it fell at the iconic Templo del Sol (Sun Temple) in the citadel.
The other tourists were named as Favian Eduardo Vera Vergara, 30, of Chilean nationality, Marion Lucie Martinez, 26, of French nationality, Cristiano Da Silva Ribeiro, 30 and Magdalena Abril Retamal, 20, both of Brazilian nationality, and Leandro Sactiva, 32, of Argentine nationality.
Judge Melody Contreras said “the Penal court of Machu Picchu sentenced Nahuel Gomez to a suspended sentence of three years and four months, charged with damaging cultural heritage of the nation in the modality of the destruction of pre-Hispanic goods”.
According to Peruvian law, prison sentences are suspended when the sentence is less than four years and the guilty party does not have a criminal record.
Gomez accepted the sentence but will have to go to the Peruvian consulate in Argentina in the city of Salta every month for two years to report his activity and follow certain conditions on his behaviour.
The trial took place on Friday in the town of Machupicchu, also known as Aguas Calientes, near the archaeological site, but the sentence was reported on Tuesday.
The six tourists were arrested in a restricted area of the archaeological site, where they went without paying for tickets.
Gomez admitted he had removed the stone that caused a hole in the ground when it fell. Local media report he also defecated at the site.
Jose Bastante, the head of the archaeological site, said that “the damage caused is invaluable. The integrity of Machu Picchu has been broken”.
Bastante added “we are reinforcing the security of Machu Picchu by installing high technology CCTV cameras”, with 18 new cameras being installed.
He said “they are going to allow us to have better control of the visitors and avoid any infractions of the rules and also any risks.”
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