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No evidence of murder in boxer Gatti's death: Quebec coroner

Al Bello/2006 Getty Images

A Quebec coroner's report into the 2009 death of champion boxer Arturo Gatti says there's no hard evidence anyone killed him.

Gatti, a Canadian pugilist nicknamed "Thunder" who rose to fame in the U.S., died at a Brazilian resort in 2009.

The long-awaited report by Jean Brochu was released Wednesday and was critical of the original police investigation and noted shortcomings in the U.S. findings.

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Brochu's conclusion was that Gatti died a "violent death" but foul play is not believed to be the cause of death. The probable cause of death was listed as asphyxiation by neck constriction.

"Much of the debate surrounding the circumstances of the death revolved around the question of whether a third party was involved in Arturo Gatti's death," Brochu wrote.

"The conclusion of the Montreal pathologists to the effect that there is no clear evidence of foul play in Mr. Gatti's death means I cannot dismiss the formal conclusions reached by the authorities of the country where it occurred."

An investigation by Brazilian authorities had ruled the death a suicide. A private investigation ordered by one of his handlers later ruled Gatti's death was a homicide.

Brochu's new report is critical of the way Brazilian authorities handled evidence at the scene of Gatti's death. It says the mishandling of forensic evidence makes it difficult to conclude with certainty what happened.

Brochu wrote that the Brazilian police investigation, "does not meet the standards we have grown accustomed to here."

He said his analysis of Gatti's wounds, his blood, and of the events on the night leading up to his death produced no "clear and hard evidence" that a third party was involved in his death.

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That means the Brazilian authorities' ultimate conclusion that Gatti committed suicide remains plausible.

Brochu also cast doubt about the results of an investigation done by private investigators in the U.S. at the behest of Gatti's former manager Pat Lynch. Some of Gatti's friends and relatives say they cannot believe that he would have committed suicide.

The coroner noted that, in his two-decade career, he has often seen family members shocked and unaware that a loved one had suicidal tendencies.

Gatti was a popular junior welterweight champion who retired in 2007 with a career record of 40 wins and nine losses. He was found dead in July 2009 at an apartment he and his family had rented in the Brazilian seaside resort of Porto de Galihnas.

The Gatti family and his friends have steadfastly rejected the suicide conclusion. The family has also become involved in a nasty legal dispute with Gatti's widow over his inheritance.

Amanda Rodrigues, the widow, was originally arrested in connection with Gatti's death. But she was eventually released when an investigation determined suicide was the cause of death.

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Her lawyer said Wednesday that she hopes the report puts an end to the speculation about her involvement in the death.

"She's very pleased with the coroner's report. She's not surprised at all," said lawyer Pierre-Hugues Fortin in a phone interview.

"She always maintained that she was not involved in her husband's death, she claimed (this) in essence from the beginning, so in this respect she's very pleased."

In particular, Rodrigues was equally satisfied with Brochu's comments on the U.S. report's shortcomings.

"She hopes that the coroner's report — a truly impartial investigation as opposed to the private one — will effectively put to an end the debate over the death of her husband," Fortin said. "Whether in Canada, the United States or anywhere else in the world, that is her true wish."

The Gatti fortune is the subject of legal disputes not only in Canada, but also in the U.S.

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