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Man Accused of Plotting Murder Says Victim Was ‘An Easy Man to Kill’ With

January 9, 1989

Man Accused of Plotting Murder Says Victim Was ‘An Easy Man to Kill’ With AM-Brazil-Ecologist, Bjt

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ A cattle rancher suspected of planning the murder of Francisco ″Chico″ Mendes denied involvement but said the ecologist was ″an easy man to kill,″ according to an interview published Monday.

Darly Alves da Silva ended a two-week manhunt by walking into a police station Saturday in the western Amazon town of Xapuri, 2,700 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, where Mendes was killed Dec. 22.

In an interview with the Jornal do Brasil of Rio, da Silva was quoted as saying: ″There was no mystery about killing Chico Mendes. One day I told him that if I wanted to kill him, I’d kill him in the middle of the street. ‘You’re an easy man to kill,’ I told him.″

Da Silva denied involvement in the shotgun murder of Mendes, who was president of the rubber tappers union and an internationally known expert on Amazon ecology. Da Silva’s 21-year-old son, Darcy, has confessed to the crime but Romeu Tuma, the federal police chief, said the shooting was ″a family decision.″

″I never killed anyone,″ da Silva said. ″My family is suffering threats and pressures, and so I resolved to give myself up.″

In May, Mendes led a successful campaign to prevent da Silva from cutting down a stand of virgin rainforest on his property. The ecologist also discovered a police warrant for da Silva’s arrest in connection with several murders in the southern state of Parana.

Mendes said the rancher often threatened to kill him. But da Silva denied it.

″I didn’t have anything against him,″ he said. ″But if someone keeps saying bad things about you in the street, don’t you think about killing him?″

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