Body of missing Australian scientist found in Argentina

by Kim Boateng Posted on January 27th, 2019

The body of an Australian university academic who vanished two weeks ago has been found buried in a shallow grave in Argentina.

University of New England microbiology professor Lily Pereg, 54, was found dead alongside her sister Pirhya Sarussi, 63, at a property belonging to Ms Sarusi’s son Gil Pereg in Mendoza, according to local media.

Autopsy results released Monday morning (Australian time), a day after police found their bodies were discovered in Mr Pereg’s backyard, showed that at least one of the two sisters had been shot at least three times and the other had been dragged.

Mr Pereg, 36, was arrested on homicide charges after bloodstains were found on a shirt and bag of cement in his apartment, according to prosecutor Claudia Rios.

Authorities had not yet determined which of the bodies belonged to which victim.

The two women went missing about two weeks ago after they reportedly went to Mendoza to visit Mr Pereg, who had lived in Argentina for more than 10 years.

Thinking of the family and friends of Prof Lily Pereg who, along with her sister, has disappeared whilst on holiday in Argentina. Lily is an accomplished microbial ecologist @UniNewEngland

Hoping for her safe return.#WomenInSTEMhttps://t.co/Yg5UPFlDSy — Rebecca Campbell (@Bec_BZool) January 21, 2019

A GoFundMe page to help find the sisters was started on January 17 and has raised more than $7500.

“(We are) humbled by the outpouring of support and love, worldwide,” the page reads.

“Your love carried us and will help us recover from a huge tragedy.
“There will never be an explanation.”

Dr Pereg obtained a PhD from the University of Sydney in 1998 and gained postdoctoral experience from the Institute for Genetics at the University of Cologne in Germany before joining UNE in 2001.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs has been contacted for comment.

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