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U.S. police plan arrest in Chandra Levy murder

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21/02/2009 - 20:20
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Washington police expect to make an arrest soon in the 2001 murder of a former U.S. government intern, a case that helped end a California congressman's career, authorities said on Saturday.

The killing of 24-year-old Chandra Levy had been one of the U.S. capital's most sensational unsolved crimes. At first, it received worldwide attention, but interest faded after the September 11, 2001, attacks and after it became a cold case.

Gary Condit, a Democratic congressman from California who was married, came under scrutiny amid the media storm that followed the May 2001 disappearance of Levy, whose remains were later found in Washington's Rock Creek Park.

Condit had admitted having a "close relationship" with Levy but maintained he had nothing to do with her disappearance or death. He eventually lost the Democratic primary when he sought re-election and left office by 2003.

Law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the suspect as Ingmar Guandique, 27, a Salvadoran immigrant who is in prison. He has denied any involvement in Levy's disappearance and killing.

Guandique pleaded guilty to assault in 2002 in two cases involving attacks on women in Rock Creek Park in May and July 2001. He is serving a 10-year sentence at a federal prison in California.

Police came under criticism for initially focussing on Condit rather than Guandique. The officials said his arrest and charges in the Levy case could occur next week.

(Reporting by James Vicini, Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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