One of the fugitive killers of record-breaking yachtsman Sir Peter Blake has been captured by police after more than 15 years on the run.

Jose Irandir Cardoso was arrested after military police who intercepted him at a routine stop on the Brazilian island of Marajo found he was carrying his brother's ID and discovered his true identity after checking his fingerprints at a local station.

Cardoso, one of the Amazon pirates jailed over the December 5, 2001 killing of Kiwi hero Blake, vanished after being sentenced to 32 years in prison.

Local reports said he had been on the run for 16 years.

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It is not clear how Jose Irandir Cardoso, pictured centre, had been on the run for so long after being found guilty of killing Sir Peter Blake.
It is not clear how Jose Irandir Cardoso, pictured centre, had been on the run for so long after being found guilty of killing Sir Peter Blake.

Last night he was being held at a prison in Breves on Marajo, a large river island bordered by the mouth of the Amazon river in northern Brazil, after being paraded in front of local media by police who captured him.

The violent death of Sir Peter Blake, the world's most famous sailor at the time, had international repercussions.

Sir Peter Blake was fatally shot to death by pirates near the mouth of the Amazon river in 2001.
Sir Peter Blake was fatally shot to death by pirates near the mouth of the Amazon river in 2001.

The 53-year-old, knighted in 1995, was monitoring global warming and pollution on the Amazon for the United Nations when his boat called Seamaster was attacked by armed robbers wearing balaclavas and crash helmets.

Blake was fatally shot in the back by one of the assailants after a rifle he had used to defend himself and his crew malfunctioned.

The attackers fled with an outboard motor and some watches after injuring two other crew members with knives.

Ricardo Colares Tavares, the man who shot the Kiwi sailor dead, was later sentenced to 37 years in prison.

Jose Irandir Cardoso, found guilty of armed robbery leading to death along with five accomplices from a gang called the Water Rats, was jailed for 32 years.

It was not immediately clear on Thursday how Cardoso went on the run, although it is believed he may have vanished after being allowed to sleep at home under strict house arrest conditions.

Police confirmed only that he had been a fugitive from the Amapa State Penitentiary Service and he had been held around 11pm local time on Tuesday after trying to pass himself off as his brother Sergio Roberto Colares Cardoso.

Sir Peter won the 1989-90 Whitbread Round the World Race and held the Jules Verne Trophy from 1994 to 1997 by setting the fastest time around the world as co-skipper of ENZA New Zealand.

He also led his country to successive victories in the America's Cup, the sport's most prestigious trophy.

He was appointed as a goodwill ambassador of the UN's environment programme five months before his death.

What happened to the killers who were caught?

• Sir Peter Blake, aged 53, was shot and killed by armed intruders who boarded his "blakexpeditions" vessel Seamaster. He died instantly despite desperate resuscitation efforts by crew members.

• Six men were later found guilty of Blake's murder. Ricardo Colares Tavares, the 23-year-old who confessed to shooting Sir Peter in what he described as self-defence, was sentenced to 36 years and 9 months. The other five received various sentences of at least 26 years 8 months.

• Last year Tavares, who remains in prison, apologised for killing Blake and asked for forgiveness.