By Matthew Elliott, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was confirmed Thursday that the Human Rights Commission of the Brazilian Order of Lawyers will be in charge of defending the three members of the Black Bloc protest group arrested this week. The self-styled anarchist group has been accused of inciting violence and creating an armed gang during the protests that have gripped the country since June.

Rio's Black Bloc Members Arrested, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Alleged Black Bloc members with masks during a protest in Rio de Janeiro in August, photo by Fernando Frazão/ABr.

Five individuals were arrested during an operation initiated by the Repression of Computer Crimes Unit and conducted by the Civil Police on Wednesday.

Two minors facing charges have since been released while three adults remain in custody. Administrators of the group’s Facebook page, the three have been charged with inciting violence and armed conspiracy.

The Human Rights Commission, which brings together professional volunteers who support members of demonstrations, will be following the case closely.

“We will now analyze the whole process, all the probationary evidence for the judiciary to take reasonable steps: suspended imprisonment or habeas corpus, which is necessary to guarantee their defense,” said Carlos André Viana, a representative of the Commission.

The three allged Black Bloc members have denied the charges, while admitting involvement in the protests. Key to the prosecution are messages posted on the group’s Facebook page, including one video that shows how to create makeshift weapons.

“I believe that they used this perforated instrument with multiple points known as ‘alligator’ or ‘hedgehog’ made with nails on the tips and can injure protestors, journalists and police. On the Internet there is a post asking for each person to make ten of these instruments. The Civil Police maintains that they are inciting violence. For this reason they will be considered an armed gang.” said Martha Rocha, chief of the Civil Police.

She also voiced concerned about a planned protest by the group this Saturday on Brazilian independence day.

Although more sporadic and localized since their eruption in June over rising bus fares and corruption, among others, the protests continue to affect Brazilian politics. Demonstrations have often turned violent with both police and protesters accused of initiating clashes.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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


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