CRIME

Spanish soccer chief’s niece killed in Mexican “express” kidnapping

María Villar Galaz, aged 39, was snatched after she took a taxi in Mexico City

Victim María Villar Galaz.
Victim María Villar Galaz.

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Police in Mexico say they have found the body of María Villar Galaz, the niece of Spanish Football Federation president Ángel María Villar, who was reported missing in a so-called “express kidnapping” a week ago.

“Pale complexion and long, fair hair.” For the last week, this was the description given by Cristiano Do Vale and Gorka Villa, the husband and cousin, respectively, of 39-year-old Villar Galaz as they visited different government offices in Mexico City in search of information about her disappearance.

Villar Galaz disappeared on the night of September 13 after taking a taxi in the Santa Fe business district of the Mexican capital.

But after seven days of anguish, on Tuesday, Do Vale and Villa were told that a body matching the description they had given lay in a morgue in Toluca, the capital of Mexico State.

María Villar was found on September 15 in a stream in Santiago Tianguistenco, a small village an hour’s drive from Mexico City. Sources from the Mexico State prosecutor’s office have told EL PAÍS that they found no identification documents on the victim, and so took her to the nearby Toluca morgue. A source close to the investigation has revealed that Villar Galaz was suffocated with a bag over her head. Her body had been bound.

After seven days of anguish, her family was told that a body matching her description lay in a morgue in Toluca

The nightmare began on the night of September 13, when Villar Galaz took a taxi from a shopping mall near to the offices of IBM, where she worked. He captors then took her to at least two ATMs where she withdrew large amounts of money. When she failed to return home that evening in the upscale Polanco neighborhood of the capital, the alert was raised on social networks.

The next day, on September 14, her captors made contact with the family. Her husband, Cristiano Do Vale, and her cousin, Gorka Villar, immediately contacted the Spanish embassy. Spain’s acting Foreign Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, who was the first to give details of the tragedy on Tuesday, reported in a radio interview yesterday that the embassy wasted no time in sending the details of the case to the Mexican Federal Police.

Sources from the Mexican prosecutor’s office confirmed that Villar and Do Vale made a payment to the kidnappers on September 14. The amount was not officially disclosed, but several versions of the story from sources estimated the amount demanded was around €90,000. García-Margallo suggested the amount was much lower, while other sources from the investigation pointed to a payment of less than €3,000.

“We were hoping it would be a matter of time before she was released safe and sound,” the minister told Spanish radio station Onda Cero from New York. “Unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”

Ángel María Villar, the victim’s uncle, is a former soccer player and has been the president of the Spanish Royal Football Federation since 1988. He has also occupied several senior positions in UEFA and FIFA.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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