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Questions Still Dog Arturo Gatti’s Death

A year after his death in Brazil at the age of 37, questions continue to dog Arturo Gatti’s demise. Gatti was found hung by a purse strap in his hotel room, and Brazilian police originally arrested Gatti’s wife and Brazilian national Amanda Rodrigues for the crime. She was released shortly thereafter. The authorities in Brazil decided that despite the fact that Rodrigues was in the same room as Gatti for more than 3 hours after his death, that she was innocent and Gatti’s death was an obvious suicide. The police claimed that a woman like Rodrigues could never have overpowered Gatti or raised him into the position necessary to hang him.

At the time, I thought that was highly suspect, simply because the next obvious question should have been “did she have an accomplice?” Also, the idea of Gatti hanging himself in a hotel room with a purse strap of all things just seemed too ridiculous to accept at face value. If there was no evidence to support holding Rodrigues, that would be one thing, but suicide? I have never thought that verdict was kosher.

The Brazilian authorities have also refused to release any information from their investigation, which given that the case was ruled a suicide and is therefore formally closed is both unusual and extremely suspicious. However, once Gatti’s body was in Canada, another autopsy was ordered which contradicts the suicide ruling. First, it is now clear that the Brazilians never tested Gatti’s blood alcohol content, so there is no physical proof for the assertion that Gatti was intoxicated at the time of his death. Second, his Adam’s Apple bone was broken, an injury common to strangulation but rare to hangings. Third, the ligature marks around his neck do not match the purse strap purportedly used to hang him. Two of those three facts point directly to murder. The lack of any blood testing combined with the suicide ruling given such glaring facts indicates incompetence on the part of the Brazilian police and their refusal to reveal any details of the investigation point directly to a cover-up.

My wife is Portuguese and she once told me the story of Luís Militao Guerreiro, who lured six investors in his fake business venture to Brazil and had them murdered so he could make off with the money. Some of his victims were buried alive. Guerreiro was eventually caught, prosecuted and jailed. In a more recent story, the famous Brazilian goalkeeper Bruno was arrested for having a gold digger, pregnant with his child, abducted, tortured to death and literally fed to the dogs. Clearly these people thought they could get away with such flagrant acts of violence in Brazil, and Bruno still might.

Did Amanda Rodrigues think the same thing? One of Gatti’s neighbors has come forward and testified that Rodrigues screamed at Gatti just before their departure for Brazil “Come to Brazil, you’re going to see what I’m going to do to you.” Given the dubious behavior of Rodrigues before, during and after Gatti’s death, she clearly must remain a suspect. She had motive and opportunity. Yet so long as the Brazilians continue to stonewall and refuse to re-open the case, there will be no proper investigation and no justice for Arturo Gatti.