Peru prosecutors investigate alleged lynching of Canadian man | News | DW | 24.04.2018
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Peru prosecutors investigate alleged lynching of Canadian man

A Peru court ordered two men to be arrested after authorities found the body of Canadian Sebastian Woodroffe in a remote Amazonian village. Prosecutors believe he was lynched on accusations of killing a medicine woman.

Olivia Arévalo Lomas (Youtube/Temple of the Way of Light)

The killing of medicine woman Olivia Arevalo sparked outrage among the indigenous Shipibo-Conibo tribe

A Peruvian judge issued two arrest warrants on Monday after a video of an alleged lynching of a 41-year-old Canadian national surfaced online.

Peruvian prosecutors launched an investigation after officials discovered the body of Sebastian Woodroffe near an indigenous settlement.

Peru's interior ministry said Woodroffe was killed by a "mob" as revenge for allegedly killing the respected 81-year-old activist and medicine woman Olivia Arevalo. Forensic experts were working on Woodroffe's body to see if there is evidence to confirm the Canadian's involvement. 

Dispute over ritual?

Woodroffe had used a crowdfunding platform to gather money for his move to Peru's remote region of Ucayali. His stated intention, according to the Indiegogo.com crowdfunding website, was to learn more about traditional plant medicine and become an addiction counselor.

After traveling to Peru's section of Amazonia, Woodroffe became a patient of shaman Arevalo. Her family believes their relationship soured when Arevalo refused to conduct a ritual involving the hallucinogenic Amazonian plant brew known as ayahuasca.

The circumstances of Arevalo's death remain unclear. However, a local rights group claimed that a man with a foreign accent came to Arevalo's door and shot her at short range before fleeing on motorcycle. Police said the main suspect was Canadian.

Prosecutor Ricardo Jimenez said the murder weapon in Arevalo's case had not been found. The testing for gunshot residue on Woodroffe's body is likely to take between 15 and 20 days.

At the same time, police are exploring several alternatives to Woodroffe's involvement, including a version where another foreigner might have killed the shaman over an unpaid debt.

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dj/se (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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