Slain Greek envoy's Brazilian widow denies guilt

Athens (AFP) - The widow of Greece's ambassador to Brazil, arrested as an alleged accomplice in his murder last month, denied guilt over his death in a letter published Wednesday.

"I declare (myself) innocent to the people of (Greece), being the victim of an accelerated, unjust and disconnected police investigation," Francoise de Souza Oliveira wrote in the English-language letter.

"The facts are still being investigated and due process has not yet occurred," the 40-year-old added in the letter, sent to the Greek embassy in Brazil and obtained by Greek daily Ethnos.

Brazilian police last month said de Souza and her 29-year-old lover, police officer Sergio Gomez Moreira, arranged to murder the 59-year-old Kyriakos Amiridis.

The diplomat went missing just after Christmas Day. His charred body was soon found in his burned-out rental car under a Rio bridge, a day after de Souza declared him missing.

Police initially became suspicious of de Souza after she took nearly two days to alert the authorities to the ambassador's absence.

Under questioning, de Souza and Moreira then both admitted to having an affair, police said.

Reports in Greece have suggested that de Souza was not formally married to the slain diplomat. In the letter she refers to him as "my companion".

The pair are in custody, along with Moreira's 24-year-old cousin, Eduardo Moreira de Melo, who allegedly also took part.

According to Brazil's homicide division, de Souza denied participating in the murder itself, but confessed she knew of the crime.

Amiridis, who was named this year, had been on a family vacation with de Souza in Rio de Janeiro since December 21.

They had been due to fly back to the capital Brasilia on January 9.

De Souza had originally told police that he had left the Rio apartment they were staying in, taken the car and not returned.

Traces of blood were reportedly found on a sofa in the apartment Amiridis and de Souza had been using, leading investigators to believe he had been killed there, then his body was placed in the rental car and driven to the spot where it was found.

Pontes said that de Souza had offered his cousin the equivalent of $25,000 to help with murdering the .

Moreira claims he and Amiridis had had a physical fight, and that he had strangled the in self-defence.

Amiridis had previously served as Greece's consul general in Rio from 2001 to 2004, where he met Oliveira.

The couple are raising a 10-year-old daughter.

In her letter, de Souza called on Greek authorities to help her child while she remains in pre-trial detention for a 30-day period.