RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — A Brazilian police investigation has determined that the death of Canadian boxer Arturo Gatti was a suicide and a court has ordered the release of his wife, once suspected of killing him, officials said Thursday.
Lead investigator Paulo Alberes told The Associated Press authorities found that Gatti killed himself on July 11 in a seaside resort in northeastern Brazil.
When asked if police had determined the case was a suicide, Alberes said “yes.” He offered no other details, but said he would hold a news conference later in the day.
A day after Gatti was found dead, police said that his 23-year-old Brazilian wife, Amanda Rodrigues, had strangled him with her purse strap as he drunkenly slept.
But police began to back off the accusation about a week later after a coroner’s report said that Gatti may have killed himself as he was found hanged and suspended. Rodrigues’ lawyer said at the time that proved his client’s innocence because she could not have physically lifted Gatti.
A spokeswoman for the Pernambuco state court in the city of Recife confirmed that judge Ildete Verissimo de Lima ordered the release of Rodrigues.
The judge wrote in the ruling that police informed the court that “the detention of the suspect was no longer needed” as the investigation “excludes the possibility of murder.”
“The victim … committed suicide by hanging,” Lima’s ruling read, referring to the police investigation findings.
Rodrigues will walk out of jail Thursday afternoon, said her lawyer, Celio Avelino.
Gatti was found dead in the apartment he was renting with Rodrigues in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas.
The pair, who had a tumultuous marriage, had arrived there a few days before Gatti’s death for a second honeymoon. The couple brought their 10-month-old son, who was unhurt and is in the care of Rodrigues’ family in Brazil.
The 37-year-old Gatti, who captured two world titles in his 16-year pro career, retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9.
Gatti’s family and friends in his adopted hometown of Montreal have denied the accusation the boxer could have killed himself.
“Nobody believes whatsoever that there’s even a one per cent chance of a suicide. He lived life to the fullest,” Ivano Scarpa, a close Gatti family friend, said at the boxer’s July 20 funeral service in Montreal.
But Rodrigues, in a July 15 letter that she handed over to the AP from prison, said: “I’m innocent and I know that this will be proven in a few days.”