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World

AFP
August 17, 2019

Autopsy shows Brazil tribal chief drowned, say officials

World

AFP
Sat, Aug 17, 2019

BRASILIA: An indigenous leader whose body was found deep in the Amazon rainforest in northern Brazil last month drowned, officials said Friday, after an autopsy found no signs of violence.

Tribal leaders had blamed Emyra Waiapi’s death on "non-indigenous people" after finding his remains in a river on July 23 -- several days before heavily armed miners allegedly overran a village in the same remote area.

But an autopsy "found no traumatic injuries" that could have caused his death, according to preliminary results released by the attorney general’s office in Amapa state.

It is likely that the man drowned accidentally sometime between July 21 and 23, said investigators, who are still waiting for toxicology results.

The tribal leader’s death had caused international outcry, with the UN human rights chief linking the incident to President Jair Bolsonaro’s pro-mining policies.

Rich in gold, manganese, iron and copper, the Waiapi’s territory has faced growing pressure from miners, ranchers and loggers under Bolsonaro, who came to power in January promising to open up the Amazon to development.

The Waiapi’s territory is one of hundreds Brazil’s government has demarcated since the 1980s for the exclusive use of its 800,000 indigenous inhabitants. Access by outsiders is strictly regulated.

Deforestation in the Amazon has soared in recent months compared with a year earlier, according to official figures which Bolsonaro has dismissed as lies.

The rapid pace of clearing has strained relations between Brazil and Europe, which has been a strong critic of the forest destruction.

Norway on Thursday joined Germany in halting Amazon protection subsidies, accusing Brazil of turning its back on the fight against deforestation.

Bolsonaro retorted that Norway should send the money to German Chancellor Angela Merkel so "she can reforest Germany."