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Image: Mourners gather by the coffin of Facundo Cabral during his wake
Eduardo Di Baia  /  AP
People gather by the coffin of Facundo Cabral during his wake at the Teatro Ateneo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/12/2011 3:31:56 PM ET 2011-07-12T19:31:56

Two suspects detained in the slaying of Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral were gunning for a Nicaraguan businessman who was accompanying him, and they may not have known who Cabral was, authorities said Tuesday.

Chief prosecutor Claudia Paz y Paz said the men were caught after being identified from hotel surveillance videos that showed them and other suspects apparently following Nicaraguan businessmen Henry Farinas.

Paz y Paz said the men appeared to have had Farinas under surveillance for about a week before Saturday's attack.

Farinas was driving Cabral to the airport when they were ambushed; Farinas was wounded and Cabral died.

Suspects Elgin Vargas and Wilfred Stokes Arnold were detained in two separate raids Tuesday in Guatemala City, said Diego Alvarez, spokesman for International Commission Against Impunity, an independent agency of foreign investigators set up to help Guatemala crack down on crimes linked to officials.

Paz y Paz said Vargas was seen driving the vehicle that cut off the sport utility vehicle carrying Cabral and Farinas. Stokes Arnold allegedly was driving another vehicle that was following the targets.

Image: Facundo Cabral
Alexandre Meneghini  /  AP
Facundo Cabral was shot to death by gunmen whle on his way to the airpor in Guatemala City.

Alvarez said other suspects are being sought.

"To the (Guatemalan) people and the international community, we say that we do have problems with violence, but we also have institutions that work, as in this case," Paz y Paz told a news conference following the arrests.

"With this step, we cannot give life back to Facundo Cabral, but we can pay respect to his life," she said.

A Guatemalan investigator who was not authorized to be quoted by name said the suspects apparently targeted Farinas because of a drug-related dispute, and said "the suspects have told us that they did not know who was traveling with Farinas."

Farinas has been identified in press reports as the manager of a chain of Central American strip clubs. However on Tuesday, the Elite Night Club in Nicaragua, one of those clubs, issued a statement saying he had no relationship with the company and it condemned the killing.

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Farinas, 40, is recovering from serious wounds at a Guatemala City hospital.

Drug cartels, some from Mexico, have established themselves in Guatemala and use the country to both grow and ship drugs.

Cabral's body was brought home to his native Argentina from Guatemala Tuesday on a Mexican Air Force jet.

Story: Argentine singer Facundo Cabral shot dead in Guatemala

Cabral rose to fame in the early 1970s as part of a generation of singers who mixed political protest with literary lyrics. He became internationally known through his song "No soy de aqui ni alla" — "I'm Not From Here Nor There — which was recorded hundreds of times in many languages.

His concerts were a mix of philosophy and folklore, spoken-word poems and music reflecting his roots in the gaucho culture of rural Argentina. He identified himself as an anarchist at times, professing a spirituality unchained to any particular religion. On stage, he celebrated the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa, the humanism of Walt Whitman and the observations of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges.

Cabral gave his last concert Thursday in the city of Quetzaltenango, 120 miles (200 kilometers) west of Guatemala City.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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