A group of indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon took justice into their own hands Thursday and lynched a Canadian man who they believed murdered a local spiritual leader. Sebastian Woodroffe's body was found by police after a video of his lynching was shared on social media, according to Peruvian prosecutors in Ucayali.
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A search was launched for the 41-year-old Canadian national after Olivia Arevalo, 81, was murdered outside her home. Arevalo was a healer for the Shipibo-Conibo tribe and was found Thursday with two fatal gunshot wounds. A prosecutor in Ucayali named Ricardo Palma Jimenez said, "We will not rest until both murders, of the indigenous woman as well as the Canadian man, are solved."
Woodroffe was lynched by some members of the Shipibo-Conibo community in the north-eastern region who believed he was responsible for the indigenous rights activist's death. The Canadian national was known to be a client of Arevalo's healing services and had been living in the area, according to Jimenez.
The murder of Arevalo prompted outrage in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest where there are a number of unsolved murders of indigenous activists. Those campaigning for the indigenous peoples face death threats from illegal loggers and palm oil growers who seek to exploit the tribe's native lands. So far authorities have no leads in either murder case and say it is too early to speculate.
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Woodroffe's body was discovered buried about half a mile from Arevalo's home on Saturday. He was last seen in a video uploaded to social media that shows a man groaning in a puddle near a thatched-roof structure when another man puts a rope around his neck and drags him away. An autopsy revealed the Canadian died of strangulation and had several blows to his body, according to Jimenez.
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<span style="margin-top:15px;rgba(42,51,6,0.7);font-size:12px;">Reuters | YouTube</span>
There are very few police in much of the Peruvian Andes and Amazon, often villagers in remote areas punish suspected criminals according to local customs. Canadian authorities said, "deepest condolences following the reported assassination of Olivia Arévalo Lomas, an indigenous elder and human rights defender." They did not offer sympathies to their own deceased citizen but did confirm they were providing consular services to his family.
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