The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Soccer referee beheaded after stabbing player to death in Brazil

Angry spectators turned unimaginably violent recently, running onto a soccer field in Brazil and stoning to death and dismembering a referee who had stabbed a player to death.

The Public Safety Department of the state of Maranhao said in a statement (via the Associated Press) that, when referee Otavio da Silva expelled Josenir dos Santos Abreu, whose age is listed as either 30 or 31, from a game last weekend, the two men fought. Silva, 20, took out a knife and stabbed Abreu, who died as he was being taken to a hospital.

Friends and relatives of Abreu, the statement said, “rushed into the field, stoned the referee to death and quartered his body.” Local media reported (via Fox Soccer) that he also had been decapitated, with his head was placed on a stake in the middle of the field. The scene was captured by cellphone photos and video, which haven’t been authenticated.

One suspect, Luis Moraes Souza, is under arrest with police seeking two others. has been arrested for the crime, and authorities are searching for two more. “Reports of witnesses have indicated some people that were in place at the time of the fact,” Valter Costa, chief of police in the town of Santa Ines in Maranhão said in a statement (via Fox Soccer). “We will identify and hold accountable all those involved. A crime will never justify another. Actions like this do not collaborate with the legality of a state law.”

The incident comes as Brazilian officials are preparing for World Cup in 11 months and the Olympics in 2016.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.