Baden: Brazil's investigation incomplete

MONTREAL -- A second autopsy performed at the request of former boxer Arturo Gatti's family has not ruled out homicide in his death.

Michael Baden, the former chief pathologist for the New York State Police and host of the HBO cable TV show "Autopsy," said Saturday that an autopsy performed by Quebec coroners found that an investigation by Brazilian authorities was incomplete.

The second autopsy came two days after Brazilian police classified Gatti's death a suicide.

"There were definite injuries that had not been seen by the Brazilian authorities, but one needs a lot of additional information, including a toxicology which isn't available yet, to come to a conclusion as to whether it's homicide or suicide," Baden said.

Until Thursday, police in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife considered Gatti's death a homicide and held his wife Amanda Rodrigues as the prime suspect. Now, police say Gatti hanged himself with a handbag strap from a staircase column more than seven feet off the ground.

Gatti's family has rejected the conclusion that he committed suicide at an upscale resort in Brazil on July 11.

Following the autopsy, Baden said it was apparent that the Brazilian investigation was incomplete. Toxicology tests will take place in Montreal in the coming weeks.

"The family [and pathologist's office] are waiting for results from the Brazilian police as to the scene of death and circumstances in Brazil before a final conclusion can be made," Baden said. "But the pathologists here [in Quebec] did a super job at finding things, including injuries, that were missed in Brazil."

Gatti, a Canadian who captured two world titles in his 16-year pro career, retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9.

Many of his friends and family have expressed disbelief at the suicide ruling, and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a statement Friday that government officials will seek more information from Brazilian authorities.

Ellen Haley, a spokeswoman for Gatti's longtime promoter Main Events, said in a statement that "we do not believe that he took his own life." She said members of the Gatti family, along with his former manager Pat Lynch, will carry out their own investigation.

"We believe that once the results of that investigation are revealed, the truth will come to light and justice will be done," the statement said.

Earlier this week, friends close to the Gatti family brought a computer to the Montreal police, claiming it had evidence of interest to his death. Montreal police have not searched the contents of the computer, and are making arrangements to have it sent to Brazilian authorities, Montreal police Constable Ian Lacoursiere said.

Gatti's 23-year-old wife was released earlier this week after being held since July 12 in Recife. She and Gatti arrived with their 10-month-old son a few days before in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas, where they rented a two-level apartment.

"I am absolutely sure that the second autopsy will reconfirm that he committed suicide," Rodrigues's attorney, Celio Avelino, said by telephone.

Repeated calls to Rodrigues went unanswered.

Milena Saraiva, a Recife police spokeswoman, provided more information Friday about Gatti's death.

Police concluded that he hanged himself in the apartment early on July 11 from a wooden staircase column that was about 7 feet off the ground. He stood on a stool and kicked it out from under him, police said. The autopsy report said Gatti was suspended for about three hours before his body fell to the floor.