Dozens of Rio police officers accused of torture following 2011 favela 'pacification'

Investigation into the disappearance of father-of-six implicates 25 officers

Rio de Janeiro

The last image of father-of-six Amarildo de Souza alive is the grainy CCTV footage showing him getting into a military police car outside a bar in Rio de Janeiro’s biggest favela on July 14.

His body has never been found, but after a high-profile campaign by his family for answers, the grim reality is beginning to emerge: Amarildo was being driven to be tortured and, it is suspected, killed at the hands of the police installed to bring law and order to the favela.

An investigation has found the assistant bricklayer was subjected to asphyxiation, Taser shocks and drowning during a 40-minute ordeal.

Prosecutors have already accused 10 policemen, including the former commander of Rocinha’s Police Pacification Unit (UPP) Major Edson Santos, of Amarildo’s murder and torture. But on Tuesday, the investigation into Amarildo’s disappearance led to a further 15 officers being charged while more details emerged of his alleged torture.

Prosecutor Carmen Eliza Bastos de Carvalho said experts and witnesses had established the exact spot where Amarildo was abused.

She also identified four officers accused of taking the 43-year-old to the location, behind the container units that serve as the UPP base, and torturing him.

Ms Carvalho said Lt Luiz Felipe de Medeiros, Sgt Reinaldo Gonçalves and soldiers Anderson Maia and Douglas Vital were told to interrogate Amarildo for information about where drug dealers were hiding weapons and drugs in Rocinha.

The biggest favela in Rio is home to more than 100,000 and was occupied or “pacified” by police in 2011.

Amarildo was taken for questioning by police on the weekend of an anti-drug raids called Operation Paz Armada.

Allegedly working under orders from Maj Santos after the operation yielded scant results, the four were said to have asphyxiated him using a bag over his head and in his mouth as well as shocking him with a Taser gun.

According to testimony, they also drowned him in a bucket of water collected from the air-conditioning unit in the police station, where traces of blood were found.

“This torture, according to witnesses, lasted around 40 minutes,” Ms Carvalho said. “During this time, the victim, Amarildo, asked for it to stop, whispered, asked for help and stated that he knew nothing.”

A statement released by the Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro said: “Residents also reported the practice of torture, abuse of authority and injury on the part of the police in that unit.”

Prosecutors dismissed the officers’ claim that Amarildo left the police station alive and was later killed by drug traffickers.

“A camera next to the Dioneia steps did not register Amarildo leaving the UPP,” the statement added.

Analysis of a mobile phone call, in which responsibility was claimed for the killing, compared the voice to those of the 34 officers named in the court papers and identified soldiers Marlon Campos Reis and Vital. A drug dealer had previously been blamed for making the call and taking credit for the killing.

Other research as part of the investigation found oil was used to cover up bloodstains behind the UPP unit. According to Globo, one police officer who gave evidence, said: “You wouldn’t do to an animal what they did to this man.”

Of the charges, all 25 officers are accused of torture, 17 of concealing a body, 13 for conspiracy and four for procedural fraud. The sentences range from nine years and four months to 33 years in prison.

Last month, Amnesty International said the investigation and indictments were “an important step in the fight against impunity for crimes committed by state agents.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / Analyst (CIMA finalist/newly qualified)

£32000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant / F...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET

£27000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of a mark...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor