By Matthew Elliott, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Homicide Division of the Civil Police has charged ten Military Police officers with the torture and death of Amarildo de Souza and concealment of a corpse. The assistant bricklayer had been missing since a July 14th police operation in the Rocinha community.

Police Indicted Over Amarildo Death, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Protest outside UPP Station, photo by Matthew Elliott.

His disappearance sparked widespread outrage among Rocinha residents, sporadic protests across Rio de Janeiro and a lengthy investigation into his whereabouts. The phrase, “Cadê o Amarildo?” (Where is Amarildo?), used by many of the protesters, became a rallying cry against police brutality in low income communities.

According to police inquiries, Amarildo de Souza was epileptic and died after being subjected to electric shocks and suffocation with a plastic bag. The torture took place in a Police Pacification Unit (UPP) building as officers attempted to pry information concerning the location of weapons and traffickers at the bottom of the favela from Mr. de Souza.

The Civil Police report was delivered to the Public Ministry of Rio late on Tuesday evening and indicted major Edson Santos, commander of the Rocinha UPP, in addition to nine other officers. All deny the charges. Prosecutors are now examining the evidence and are expected to seek a judicial order for the arrest of the ten suspects.

Michelle Lacerda, Mr. de Souza’s niece, hoped the case would alter the treatment of favela residents by police. “The arrest of these officers will serve to make you understand that the human beings who live in the community also have rights, and they know how to act in order to ensure respect for their rights,” she told the press.

Four separate investigations within the Civil Police were launched following Mr. de Souza’s disappearance. Technical evidence from security camera reconstructions contradicted the testimony of officers according to prosecutor Homer Freitas.

Delegate Rivaldo Barbosa of the Homicide Division said the evidence was sufficient for indictment stating that “further steps will be made by the Homicide Division in the coming days, the investigation is closed, now we can seek more information and the body of Amarildo.”

The case has drawn international attention to police behavior in Rio’s favelas and has led to hierarchical changes within the city’s UPP structure.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you-to-date with important news as it happens.


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