Greek diplomat Kyriakos Amiridis, 59, hadn’t even been ambassador to Brazil for a year when he was murdered, stuffed into his rental car, and set on fire by Sergio Moreira, a 29-year-old military police officer who confessed to killing the ambassador and sleeping with the ambassador’s 40-year-old wife.
Amiridis was one of his country’s most well-known and respected diplomats, while his Brazilian wife, Françoise De Souza Oliveira, a socialite whom he met during a stint as consul general in Rio from 2001 to 2004, had also acquired a particular sort of notoriety: She had made her name as someone famous for being famous, a sort of Brazilian Kim Kardashian.
Over the years, headlines noted her opulent spending on the Greek government’s tab while Greeks languished in austerity-driven poverty back home. Now she’s making headlines in Greece for allegedly killing one of their top diplomats.
Based on her lover Moreira’s confession and backed up by surveillance tapes, all of which was reported extensively in the Brazilian press, it appears that on the day after Christmas the ambassador had gone to the holiday home that he and Oliveira rented year round near Rio de Janeiro. (Their official diplomatic residence is in the capital, Brasilia, where they lived with their 10-year-old daughter.)
The ambassador’s wife reportedly had arranged for her lover to serve on the ambassador’s personal security detail, and in that guise he had joined the Amiridis family in Rio.
At some point during the day—around the time Oliveira left with their young daughter—the ambassador, suspecting the love affair going on behind his back, confronted the younger man.
Moreira, a military-trained police officer 30 years younger than Amiridis, said that the older man attacked him and tried to strangle him, and that a fight ensued in which he killed the ambassador “in self-defense.”
Unsure what to do, Moreira told police he then “called his cousin” to help dispose of the body, which they did by wrapping it in one of the rental property’s Persian rugs and stuffing it into the front passenger seat of the rental car the ambassador had hired.
Surveillance video shows Oliviera and her daughter arriving at the vacation cottage just as Moreira and his cousin were hauling out the rug-wrapped body.
Then police say the two men drove the car with the dead ambassador swaddled in carpet to a river near the suburb of Nova Iguaçu and pushed it down an embankment under a bridge. There they set it on fire, reportedly staying long enough to make sure the flames didn’t rage out of control and alert the authorities prematurely.
Evaristo Pontes, a police investigator in the Baixada Fluminense region near Rio de Janeiro, told reporters that the murder was like a “macabre novel.”
When police discovered the charred remains four days later, there was nothing left of the ambassador, the rug, or much of the car, though they were able to tie the serial number to the rental company and Amiridis. They had to use DNA from the young daughter to match the burned bones of the ambassador, results that are expected by week’s end.
"He says he got into a physical fight with the ambassador,” Pontes said of Moreira’s confession. “And he had no choice other than to hit the ambassador and kill him. He says he was in desperation and didn't know what to do, given what had happened, so he asked a cousin for help and they went to make the ambassador's body disappear.”
Amiridis’s wife reported her husband’s disappearance on the 28th, two days after he was killed, telling police that she had tried desperately to reach him but that they had had a fight over the holidays and she thought he was just cooling off.
Investigators say her story ran in circles, frequently contradicting her previous statements. She also failed to come up with a good reason for the presence of her husband’s blood on the resort cottage sofa. Eventually, according to police, she admitted to being Moreira’s lover, but not to the killing. He was then brought in for questioning, at which point he confessed to the crime and fingered his cousin Eduardo de Melo for helping.
The cousin then turned the saga back to the ambassador’s unfaithful wife, telling investigators that she offered him around $25,000 to ditch the body, which she would pay “in 30 days’ time if nothing goes wrong,” according to police testimony.
Despite the wife’s denials, police investigator Pontes told reporters that she was the “intellectual author” of the heinous crime. On Tuesday a court upheld her imprisonment for 30 days while prosecutors build a case and look to charge her formally with murder.
“All of our evidence suggests that her motivation was to use the financial resources left by the ambassador so she could enjoy life with Sergio,” Pontes told reporters, claiming that she hatched the plan after she and Amiridis had a heated argument over the holiday period.
She has denied all criminal allegations.
According to Reuters, the area where the ambassador’s remains were found was “dominated by powerful and politically connected armed groups comprised mostly of off-duty or retired police and firefighters who control vast areas.” It is unclear whether Moreira was involved in that criminal activity.
Amiridis, a career diplomat, had moved to Brazil after serving as Greece’s ambassador to Libya, where he was instrumental in evacuating his countrymen amid the chaotic fighting in 2014, according to a spokesman for the Greek government. Before that, he was the permanent representative for the Permanent Mission of Greece to the European Union as well as ambassador to Belgrade during the early days of the war in Yugoslavia.
Michel Temer, the president of Brazil, sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressing sadness for what had happened to Greece’s top diplomat in his country. On Tuesday, an envoy from Athens arrived in Rio de Janeiro to assist in the investigation and to see to the safety of the couple’s young daughter, who is in protective custody while her remaining parent’s saga plays out.