A man reportedly from Canada has been killed in Peru after villagers accused him in the shooting death of an Indigenous spiritual elder.
Olivia Arevalo Lomas, 81, a defender of environmental rights and traditional plant healer of the Shipibo-Conibo tribe was found dead with two gunshot wounds last week at her home in the Ucayali region of the Amazon rainforest.
Local media claims the killer pulled up to Lomas’ house on a motorbike and called out her name.
When she appeared at the door, a gunman opened fire and Lomas was killed instantly, with the shooter fleeing the scene.
According to Global News, local villagers pointed the finger at Sebastian Woodroffe, 41, from the Comox Valley in B.C., who had travelled to Peru to study hallucinogenic medicine. He’s believed to have been studying with Lomas.
Woodroffe, who lived nearby was blamed for the fatal shooting of Lomas and he was killed that same day by a vigilante mob.
He had not been named by police as a suspect in her murder.
Police did not investigate Woodroffe’s death until cellphone video on local media showed a man who was beaten, then lynched and dragged through a village.
Police found Woodroffe’s body in an unmarked shallow grave on Saturday.
Canadian officials are investigating Woodroffe’s death.
It is not clear, why the villagers anger focussed on the Canadian as other indigenous leaders in the past have been targeted for efforts to keep illegal loggers off Indigenous lands.
“We want the communities of the Amazon to know that there is justice,” Ricardo Palma Jimenez, the head of a local group of prosecutors told TV Peru in Ucayali. “But not justice by their own hands.”
“But we are a peaceful people who have always lived in harmony with nature,” he insisted. “We have little confidence in the police as, so often, crimes against us go unpunished.”
No arrests have been made in either of the cases.