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Pro boxer accused of killing a pregnant lover

M. Verdejo (right) fought in the 2012 Olympics

A Puerto Rican boxer who fought at the London Olympics in 2012 has been accused of kidnapping and killing his pregnant lover.

Félix Verdejo is accused of having attacked Keishla Rodríguez and then of having thrown his body on a bridge near San Juan, the capital of the American island territory.

He surrendered to police on Sunday after refusing to cooperate with investigators, police said.

The death sparked protests against the murder of women in Puerto Rico.

In January, the island declared a state of emergency due to violence against women. Puerto Rico has at least one femicide a week, according to local rights groups, with at least 60 of these crimes last year.

The 27-year-old married lightweight boxer faces kidnapping and carjacking charges resulting in the death and intentional murder of an unborn child.

According to a federal complaint, Mr. Verdejo punched his lover in the face before tying her up and throwing her off a bridge.

Pro boxer accused of killing a pregnant lover

Protesters gathered on a bridge near where Ms Rodríguez’s body was found

He also allegedly shot her in the water with a pistol as he stood on top of the bridge.

An anonymous witness is also said to have helped Mr. Verdejo.

The victim’s mother told local media that her daughter was carrying Mr Verdejo’s child and that he wanted her not to have the baby for the sake of her family and her career.

“I told him ‘be careful’ because he threatened her not to have the baby, that he had his family, that he was a boxer, that he was a public figure,” Keila Ortiz said. Rivera to El Nuevo Día newspaper, adding that she last spoke to her daughter on Thursday.

Pro boxer accused of killing a pregnant lover

Some protesters dropped flowers into the water from the bridge

Ms Rodríguez, 27, had known Mr Verdejo from their teenage years, she said, and had kept in touch with him over the years.

His body was found in a lagoon on Saturday and was identified on Sunday through dental records, according to the Puerto Rico Institute of Forensic Sciences.

According to Top Rank, a boxing promotion company that has worked with Mr. Verdejo since 2012, his boxing record stands at 27-2, with 17 knockouts.

The company, which deleted Mr Verdejo’s page over the weekend, released a statement saying “his thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz, and all who are in mourning”.

“We are deeply disturbed by the reporting and will continue to monitor the development of the matter as it unfolds.”

He is due to appear in court for the first time on Monday.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on a bridge near where Ms Rodríguez’s body was found on Sunday to protest the killing of women.

Mr Verdejo’s arrest came just days after the body of another woman – Andrea Ruiz Costas – was found partially burned.

The victim filed a gender-based violence complaint against her partner in March, but a judge dismissed the case, according to local media. Her partner has since been charged with murder.

After years of pressure from activists, Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency amid rising violence against women earlier this year.

The ordinance directs more resources to tackle violence, including a mobile app for asking for emergency help and an educational campaign focusing on gender-based violence.

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