By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In a television interview on Tuesday, October 30th, the new governor-elect of Rio, Wilson Witzel, spoke about his plans regarding security. Witzel revealed that he wants to use military police snipers in helicopters to kill armed aggressors and also to extend the federal military intervention another ten months.
“For example, today, in Cidade de Deus, a helicopter filmed five hostiles armed with rifles. If you had an operation there in which our military were authorized to kill, they would all be eliminated,” said Witzel on GloboTV.
When asked about past instances where police have inadvertently shot innocent individuals holding objects resembling a gun, Witzel asserted, “Normally, snipers do not shoot those who have an umbrella, or a hand drill.”
He added, “Those past cases were not snipers. They were military men who were not prepared for this kind of mission. Our military will be trained and prepared.”
During the interview, Witzel was pressed to clarify previous comments he had made during the campaign where he stated that the police should be authorized to kill anyone deemed a “threat.” Witzel clarified that, for the police, anyone holding a gun is considered a “threat…an immediate threat.”
Regarding whether his aggressive stance was permissable under Brazil’s criminal code, the former federal judge answered, “Laws are made to be interpreted, and we interpret the law.”
And if a police action should end up in court, Witzel boldly exclaimed, “I’d rather defend police officers than go to a funeral….it is a risk that we take. What makes me more uncomfortable is seeing a bad guy with a rifle on the street.”
In the interview, Witzel also said he would like to keep Brazil’s armed forces in the state for another ten months after the intervention‘s end date on December 31st of this year. The extension would give the state more time to train police officers, according to the governor-elect.
“I need these troops to maintain law and order even after the intervention ends, because it will take time for new police officers to undergo training.”
Ironically, since Brazil’s armed forces took over Rio’s public security in February, shootings and murder, particularly involving police or military officials, have risen throughout the city.
In the second round runoff of the Rio de Janeiro gubernatorial race this past Sunday, October 28th, Witzel won a convincing victory over ex-Rio mayor Eduardo Paes, sixty percent to forty percent.