Peruvian police searched Tuesday for two men over the lynching of a Canadian suspected of killing an elderly shaman in the Amazon, judicial sources said Tuesday.
Judge David Panduro ordered the men’s arrest for the “alleged offense of aggravated homicide” after police discovered the body of Sebastian Paul Woodroffe, 42, in the Ucayali region of northeastern Peru.
Grisly footage of his death at the hands of a mob had been widely circulated on social media over the weekend.
In the video, a man is seen making aggressive attempts to put a black rope around the neck of another man slumped in a puddle with blood on his face, who tries, unsuccessfully, to fight him off.
“Please, no!” he mumbles in Spanish, as someone can be heard saying: “You asked for it.”
Prosecutors confirmed Woodroffe’s death was linked to the murder of Olivia Arevalo, an 81-year-old healer, rights activist and respected leader within the indigenous Shipibo-Konibo community who was shot dead on April 19.
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According to a local rights group, a man with a foreign accent went to her home and when she opened the door, he opened fire at short range before fleeing on a motorcycle.
Police immediately launched a search for the main suspect, whom they identified as a Canadian national, finding his body buried nearby on Saturday.
– Ayahuasca dispute? –
Judicial officials named the two suspects wanted for his murder as Jose Ramirez and Nicolas Mori, both members of the same indigenous community as Arevalo.
Within the Shipibo-Konibo community, Arevalo was a healer widely revered for her knowledge of traditional medicine who was believed to have special powers.
Woodroffe had been living in the area for about two years and had acquired 20 hectares (50 acres) of land there, Peruvian media said.
Police investigating her murder are reportedly pursuing two theories, one of which involved Woodroffe killing the shaman because she refused to let him participate in an ayahuasca ceremony.
Ayahuasca is a powerful hallucinogenic concoction from the Amazon consumed as part of a shamanic ritual.
The other theory is that he killed her over a debt, local media said, without giving any further information.
There are some 31,000 ethnic Shipibo-Konibo people living in Peru’s Amazon jungle region.
This is not the first such murder.
In September 2014, four leaders of the indigenous Ashaninka people were killed in the Ucayali region that borders Brazil after illegal loggers and drug traffickers had threatened them.