An Argentinian jury convicted an Israeli on Wednesday for the murder of his mother and aunt in the South American country more than two years ago.
The court sentenced Gil Pereg, 40, to life imprisonment for the murders, requiring him to serve at least 35 years in prison.
He was arrested and charged with manslaughter after the remains of his mother, Pyrhia Sarusi, 63, and his sister, Dr Lily Pereg, 54, associate professor of microbiology at the University of New England in Australia, were found on his property in the city of Mendoza in January 2019.
The two were traveling to Argentina at the time of their murders. They had been missing for two weeks before their bodies were found under the rubble in Gilad Pereg’s house.
Pereg’s uncle said at the time that he was mentally ill, in dire financial straits and living in poverty with dozens of cats.
“He’s a real genius, he’s always been a great student and got his undergraduate and masters degree from Technion,” Moshe Pereg told reporters. But Gil’s behavior changed dramatically in 2006, he said. “I think he suffered from a nervous breakdown which was not diagnosed.”
After the outage, Moshe Pereg said his nephew turned to online gambling and found himself in debt. He left Israel for Argentina soon after to escape his growing financial problems.
He said Gil Pereg had little contact with his mother, although she continued to support him financially over the years. Despite the financial assistance, Moshe Pereg said Gil “lived like a homeless man” in a small house with dozens of cats.
“He owns a lot of cats and is very concerned about them. He cares about them more than himself.
Pereg was called a “cat man” by Argentine media during the trial, after being kicked out of the courtroom for repeatedly meowing in response to questions from prosecutors.
JTA contributed to this report.