British scientist shot dead in Ecuador was ‘unlawfully killed’

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dr. Samphire was in Ecuador to study the howler monkey

A coroner has ruled that a conservationist shot dead in Ecuador was unlawfully killed. Dr. Ben Samphire was studying a rare species of howler monkey when he was shot dead in February last year. The 31-year-old, who was born in Zambia but lived in the United Kingdom, had been in Ecuador less than a month when he was killed.

The inquest heard that Deputy Gwent coroner Wendy James recorded a verdict of unlawful killing caused by a shotgun wound to the back. James said that "After being in Ecuador a matter of weeks Ben was shot in the back, sustaining fatal injuries. The motive for this attack has not been communicated by the Ecuador police”.

Detective sergeant Wendy Keepin told the inquest that the Gwent police are working with the Foreign Office to locate the killer. She said "They have told us they have been making inquiries to locate the offender. The village he is located in is in a forest and they believe he has gone to ground. They are struggling to locate him."

The motive of the killing is still disputed. Early reports speculated that he had been mistaken for an intruder and shot dead by the landowner.