Brazil: Police detail how boxer Gatti committed suicide, why they first called it homicide

Police provide details on boxer Gatti’s death

RIO DE JANEIRO — Arturo Gatti hanged himself with a handbag strap from a staircase column more than seven feet off the ground, Brazilian police said Friday as they released new details about the boxer’s death.

Milena Saraiva, a police spokeswoman in the northeastern city of Recife, provided more information about Gatti’s suicide a day after authorities reversed their stance on the case. Until Thursday, they insisted it was a homicide and the boxer’s wife was tagged as the primary suspect.

“This case has been resolved. While the evidence at the scene first led us to think Gatti was murdered, the autopsy results and a detailed crime scene analysis simply pointed to a different outcome,” Saraiva said.

On Thursday, a judge ordered the release of Gatti’s wife, 23-year-old Amanda Rodrigues, who had been held since July 12 in Recife. She and Gatti arrived with their 10-month-old son a few days before in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas, where they rented a two-level apartment.

Police ultimately concluded that Gatti hanged himself in the apartment early on July 11 from a wooden staircase column that was 7.3 feet off the ground. He stood on a stool and kicked it out from underneath him, police said. The autopsy report said Gatti was suspended for about three hours before his body fell to the floor.

Rodrigues said she was sleeping with the pair’s son in an upstairs bedroom. She told police she went downstairs about 6 a.m. to get milk for the boy and saw Gatti’s body on the floor, but assumed he was drunkenly sleeping. It was not until she went back downstairs at 9 a.m. that she discovered Gatti was dead and called police. Saraiva said no suicide note was found.

“The first investigators to arrive at the scene only saw his body on the floor and the bloodied strap near his body,” Saraiva said. “They assumed his wife strangled him.”

Saraiva said 17 witnesses told police that the pair got into a loud fight on a street near the beach in Porto de Galinhas the night before Gatti died. Saraiva said Gatti had seven cans of beer, along with two bottles of wine, over the course of dinner and partying at a bar.

Witnesses told police Gatti at one point picked up Rodrigues, who weighs about 100 pounds, by her chin with his right hand and tossed her to the ground.

Saraiva said at that point a security guard for a local hotel intervened, only to be punched in the face by Gatti. A small crowd that had gathered around the scene grew angry, with some throwing stones and even a bicycle at the boxer, the police spokeswoman said.

One stone hit Gatti in the back of the head, causing a wound that police originally said was caused by a small steak knife that was found near his body — and which police showed off to reporters the day after Gatti’s death.

The fracas eventually broke up, and Gatti and Rodrigues returned to the apartment in separate taxis.

In an telephone interview with The Associated Press as she walked out of jail Thursday, Rodrigues said Gatti may have killed himself because he feared she would leave him after their fight, one of many during a rocky two-year marriage.

“I believe that when we got home and he saw that he hurt me, he thought I would leave him, that I would tell him to just let me go, that I would separate from him,” she said. “He did that in a moment of weakness. He was drunk, maybe he didn’t know what he was doing, maybe he thought I would leave him the next day.”

According to records at the Court of Quebec’s criminal and penal division, Gatti was charged on April 16 for violating a restraining order that had been filed against him. Records didn’t indicate who filed the restraining order, but Gatti’s mother, Ida, confirmed it was Rodrigues who had taken one out against him.

Gatti, a Canadian who captured two world titles in his 16-year pro career, retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9.

Many of his friends and family have expressed disbelief at the suicide ruling, and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a statement Friday that government officials will seek more information from Brazilian authorities on the Gatti investigation and its findings.

Ellen Haley, a spokeswoman for Main Events, the longtime promoter of Gatti’s bouts, said in a statement “we do not believe that he took his own life.”

She said members of the Gatti family, along with his boxing manager Pat Lynch, will carry out their own investigation. “We believe that once the results of that investigation are revealed, the truth will come to light and justice will be done,” Haley said.

Associated Press Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.


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