A British activist and Catholic missionary was found dead and burnt in a hostel that he founded in the city of Iquitos in Peru. Francisco Moreno, head forensic doctor in Loreto region, confirmed the news that Paul McAuley was found dead, and his body was apparently burned after. The forensic expert later added that he found no traces of carbon dioxide in the victim’s blood which is an indication that he did not inhale smoke which means that burning was not the cause of his death.
Last Tuesday, a group of students found the burnt body of the 71-year old activist in the hostel that he built which was intended for the indigenous children in the area. Police authorities have not released a statement regarding the investigation and whether they have started to open the murder inquiry and the cause of the victim’s death. The state prosecutors, however, have already questioned 6 male indigenous students who are living in the area.
Mr. Moreno also added that it is very challenging to determine the cause of the victim’s death. He said that additional toxicological and pathological tests are being conducted although the results will take time between three and six months. The forensic expert also said that the body was almost destroyed completely with 80% of it burned totally, making the investigation much more complicated.
Mr. McAuley who was burned in Portsmouth rose to worldwide fame in 2010 when the government of Peru ordered his deportation after helping Amazon tribes against oil and gas companies penetrating the rainforest. The local media even labeled the missionary as “white terrorist”, “Tarzan activist”, and an “incendiary gringo priest”. The country’s Episcopal conference has already called the authorities to strengthen their investigation and to solve the case immediately.