LATIN AMERICA

Greek ambassador’s death in Brazil turns into a dark soap opera

Rio police suspect widow, her lover and a relative of the latter who said he was offered over €23,000

Rio de Janeiro - 02 Jan 2017 - 13:28 UTC

The alleged disappearance and death of the Greek ambassador to Brazil as he was vacationing in Rio de Janeiro has all the ingredients of a dark soap opera, including abuse, infidelity and money. The Rio police, which only solves around 16% of the city’s homicide cases, has investigated the disappearance of Kyriakos Amiridis in record time.

Françoise Amiridis, the ambassador's widow.
Françoise Amiridis, the ambassador's widow.Fabiano Rocha / AP

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Amiridis allegedly went missing on Monday of last week. On Thursday, police found a burned-out car with a charred body lying inside. The license plate and model matched the vehicle that the ambassador had rented at the time of his disappearance.

The car was found under a bridge in Nova Iguaçu, a municipality in the Rio metropolitan area where the Amiridis family was spending its Christmas vacation, 48 kilometers from Ipanema beach.

The plot has three main characters who have been temporarily detained on murder charges: the ambassador’s wife, Françoise Amiridis, 40; her lover, a 29-year-old military police officer named Sérgio Gomes Moreira, and a 24-year-old relative of the latter, Eduardo Moreira.

Investigators now have 60 days to come up with some hard evidence before they are forced to release the suspects

While the police have yet to find a motive, they are convinced that all three plotted Amiridis’ death a day before the murder. So said Eduardo, who made the confession after feeling betrayed by Sergio.

The young man declared that the ambassador’s widow offered him 80,000 reales (€23,666) to get rid of her husband. To a lower-class youth with no regular source of income, that was a fortune.

Surveillance cameras at the residential estate where the couple lived have captured both suspects entering the family home. The wife’s lover said he had a fight with Amiridis over the alleged abuse that she was suffering at her husband’s hands.

The argument got out of hand, and the ambassador reportedly took out a weapon and pointed it at Sergio Gomes, according to the latter’s version of events, although police have yet to find that weapon. The suspect claims that he strangled the ambassador in self-defense.

But the police inspector in charge of the case, Evaristo Pontes, thinks this hypothesis is “highly unlikely.” Instead, he believes that Gomes went to the ambassador’s house intending to kill him, and that the diplomat was seriously injured, as suggested by a bloodstain on the living room sofa.

After killing him, the attackers wrapped the body in a rug and loaded it in the trunk of Amiridis’ rental car. Cameras captured the moment, at around 3.30am. The widow denies that she was present at the time, but the younger suspect, Eduardo Moreira, says that she arrived home with her 10-year-old daughter from a nearby shopping center before they had left with the body.

The child did not see anything, but her mother allegedly told the killers to go faster. Françoise denies this, and says instead that she realized her husband had been murdered the next day, when she saw the bloodstain on the couch and asked her lover for explanations.

After the murder, Sergio Gomes drove around without a clear destination and decided to hide the car to give himself some time to plan his next step. Nearly 24 hours later, he chose to burn the vehicle and try and make it look like a case of city violence. But he had to hire a taxi driver to take him to purchase gasoline, and a beggar who was in the area witnessed the fire.

Once the evidence had been (poorly) disposed of, the widow went down to the police station on Wednesday to report her husband’s disappearance. They had been together 15 years.

The wife’s lover said he had a fight with Amiridis over the alleged abuse that she was suffering at her husband’s hands

She stated that she had had no news of her husband since Monday, and that even though he often left without saying where he was going, he usually called his daughter. Françoise made her statements in the company of her lover and a lawyer – a fact that seemed suspicious to the police.

Investigators interrogated Françoise and Sergio repeatedly, with the testimony of both full of contradictions. Officers now have 60 days to come up with some hard evidence before they are forced to release the suspects.

But many questions remain: why did the lovers decide to kill the ambassador? Did they simply want to be together, or was there a financial motive as well? The cameras caught Sergio and Eduardo going into the house, but was the widow inside? Where did Sergio hide the car for 24 hours?

And of course, what was Françoise thinking, going to the police precinct to report her husband’s disappearance in the company of her lover?

English version by Susana Urra.

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