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Police: Gold Miners Committed Genocide Against Yanomami Indians

October 2, 1993

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Federal police say they have uncovered evidence linking 23 Brazilian gold miners to the July killings of 16 Yanomami Indians near their remote jungle village in the Venezuelan Amazon.

A police report made public Friday said the miners committed ″genocide″ and planned to ″destroy and decimate″ all 81 Yanomami inhabiting the Hwaaximeu village, located 9 miles from the border of Brazil.

″They didn’t kill everyone only because some of the tribesmen had gone away to a feast in another village, and others were away picking fruit for the holy ceremony,″ said Raimundo Soares Cutrim, a federal police inspector.

He said the miners killed four Indians on July 15 in a clash over a hammock, food and rifle.

After warriors retaliated by killing two prospectors, the group of miners ambushed the Yanomami at Hwaaximeu on July 22, shooting to death four adults and decapitating eight children.

Cutrim said he has asked the justice ministry for permission to detain all 23 suspects on charges of genocide. Two miners are already in police custody in Boa Vista, capital of the northwestern jungle state of Roraima.

A conviction of genocide can bring prison sentences of 12 to 30 years.

Cutrim said he has asked the justice and foreign ministries to send the report to Venezuelan investigators and to ask that country’s permission to collect further evidence near the massacre site.

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