RIO DE JANEIRO — The killing of the Greek ambassador was shocking even by the standards of this crime-weary city: Investigators say his wife had him murdered in a home they owned in Rio by her lover, a police officer, who then set the diplomat’s remains on fire.
Police investigators on Friday arrested Françoise Oliveira, the Brazilian wife of the Greek envoy, Kyriakos Amiridis, and Sérgio Gomes Moreira, the officer who confessed to killing the ambassador while having an affair with Ms. Oliveira.
“This was a tragic, cowardly act,” said Evaristo Magalhães, the lead investigator in the case. He said that Ms. Oliveira, 40, and Mr. Moreira, 29, plotted the killing on Sunday before the officer carried it out on Monday.
Ms. Oliveira tried to mislead investigators by saying her husband, 59, had disappeared, Mr. Magalhães said, insisting that she was innocent before confessing on Friday that her lover had killed him. In tears, Ms. Oliveira said that the ambassador’s death “could not be avoided,” Mr. Magalhães said.
The case provided a gruesome finish to the year, as Rio reels from a harrowing crime wave, a financial crisis and graft scandals, just months after hosting the Olympic Games.
The suspected murder of the ambassador by an officer also trains scrutiny on Rio’s police forces, already under pressure over extrajudicial killings, torture, forming militias and assassinating candidates in municipal elections.
Ms. Oliveira is connected to another violent episode in Rio, the 2003 killing of Todd Staheli, an American executive for the oil giant Shell, and his wife, Michelle. The handyman who confessed to the murders was arrested after he allegedly jumped the wall into the nearby home where Ms. Oliveira lived with Mr. Amiridis, who was Greece’s consul in Rio at the time.
“Until then, no one knew that Amiridis was married,” said Hildegard Angel, a columnist who writes about Rio’s high-society and diplomatic circles, describing the Greek diplomat as “outgoing and extremely charming.”
The police got a break in the killing of Mr. Amiridis when a man identified as a cousin of Mr. Moreira told investigators that Ms. Oliveira had offered him about $25,000 to assist in the murder. The cousin, Eduardo Moreira de Melo, 24, was also arrested on Friday.
Investigators found Mr. Amiridis’s charred remains on Thursday in a car abandoned near an overpass in Nova Iguaçu, a gritty city on the fringes of metropolitan Rio. While Mr. Amiridis and his wife lived in the capital, Brasília, Ms. Oliveira was from the Rio area and they were here to spend the holidays with relatives, according to the police.
Investigators identified the car as the same vehicle Mr. Amiridis had rented in Rio, while obtaining images from security cameras in the gated community where the ambassador and his wife owned a home. The footage appeared to show Mr. Moreira and Mr. de Melo preparing to haul Mr. Amiridis’s body into the vehicle on Monday night.
“We knew that police officer, he’d even been in our family’s home,” Rosângela Oliveira, Ms. Oliveira’s mother, told the newspaper Extra, explaining that the suspect had moonlighted as a security guard for a lawyer who is a friend of the family. “We just don’t know if the two really were having an affair.”
Mr. Magalhães, the police investigator, said that both Ms. Oliveira and Mr. Moreira had acknowledged being romantically involved over the last six months.
“We’re trying to determine if Françoise wanted to kill the ambassador to take control of his assets and live with the police officer,” said Mr. Magalhães. He said that Ms. Oliveira had also contended that she had been battered by her husband, but that authorities had not found any indication that she had pressed charges against him.
According to his official biography, Mr. Amiridis studied law at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and received a master’s degree in European law from the Sorbonne in Paris before doing postgraduate work in international penal law.
He began his career as an attaché at the Foreign Ministry in Athens. His first posting abroad was in 1988 at the Greek Embassy in Belgrade, then the capital of Yugoslavia and now of Serbia. In 1993, he joined the Greek delegation to the European Union, based in Brussels.
From 2001 to 2004, Mr. Amiridis was the Greek consul general in Rio, a period during which he met Ms. Oliveira. This year, he returned to Brazil as the ambassador. He and his wife lived in Brasília with their daughter.
Between the Brazil stints, Mr. Amiridis was Greece’s consul general in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and ambassador to Libya, among other postings.
In a statement, Greece’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed sorrow over the killing of Mr. Amiridis, who had been lauded for his role in the evacuation of Greeks and other foreigners in Libya in 2014 during the continuing civil war there.
Continue reading the main story