RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP, REUTERS) – Greece's ambassador to Brazil was murdered in a plot hatched by his Brazilian wife and her police officer lover, who confessed to the crime, officials said on Friday (Dec 30).
The envoy, Kyriakos Amiridis, 59, was killed on Monday (Dec 26) by the officer, Sergio Gomez Moreira, Rio homicide division chief Evaristo Pontes told a news conference.
Mr Amiridis’ charred body was found on Thursday in Rio in his burned-out rental car, a day after his wife, Francoise de Souza Oliveira, declared him missing.
Oliveira, 40, and Moreira, 29, both admitted to having an affair, police said.
The pair are in custody, along with Moreira’s 24-year-old cousin, Eduardo Tedeschi, who allegedly also took part.
According to the homicide division chief, Oliveira denied participating in the murder itself, but confessed she knew of the crime. Mr Amiridis had been on a family vacation with his wife in the north of Rio de Janeiro since Dec 21.
They had been due to fly back to the capital Brasilia on Jan 9. His wife had originally told police that he had left the Rio apartment they were staying in, taken the car and not returned.
But her version had contradictions, and after Mr Amiridis’s body was found in the burned-out car under a bridge, police took Oliveira in for more questioning and also detained Moreira.
Traces of blood were reportedly found on a sofa in the apartment Mr Amiridis and Oliveira had been using, leading investigators to believe he had been killed there, then placed in the rental car and driven to the spot it was found.
Investigator Evaristo Magalhaes said Oliveira and Moreira had arranged the murder a few days in advance.
Tedeschi had been offered 80,000 reais (S$35,560) to act as a lookout while the murder was being committed and help carry the body from the house, said Mr Magalhaes.
"This was a tragic, cowardly act, but we worked tirelessly to crack this case as soon as possible," Mr Magalhaes told a news conference. “It was a crime of passion.”
Moreira said he and Mr Amiridis had had a physical fight, and that he had killed the ambassador with a shot from his own gun.
But neighbours told police they had heard no shot. An autopsy is being carried out on the burned body of the ambassador, with police suspecting he was stabbed.
The couple have a 10-year-old daughter.
Brazilian President Michel Temer, in a letter addressed to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, said the ambassador’s killing had caused him profound sadness and he extended his condolences to the ambassador’s family, friends and the Greek people.
Mr Amiridis served as Greece’s consul general in Rio from 2001 to 2004, where he met Oliveira. He was Greece’s ambassador to Libya from 2012 until he took the top Brazil post at the beginning of 2016.
A Greek police team was due to leave Friday for Brazil to take part in the investigation, while Greece’s ambassador in Argentina was headed to Brasilia, Athens said.
Rio de Janeiro, though picturesque, has a reputation as a dangerous place. The 2016 Olympic host city has seen crime rates soar in recent months, fueled by drug gang violence.
Hit hard by Brazil’s worst recession in more than a century, Rio de Janeiro state is facing bankruptcy and struggling to deal with the violent crime that has long dogged the area.