Suspects in Brazilian gang rape 'had struck a week earlier'

 

Rio de Janeiro

The kidnap and gang rape of an American tourist after boarding a public minibus in Rio de Janeiro has focused attention on crime in the city that will host the World Cup final next year and the Olympics in three years’ time.

The six-hour assault on the student in which three men took turns raping her as they drove around the city has drawn comparisons with the Indian bus rape case in December.

Police moved quickly to arrest three suspects after the assault in the early hours of Saturday morning. But it also emerged the gang may have raped a Brazilian woman a week earlier.

The ordeal of the woman, 21, and her French boyfriend, 23, began when they hailed a minibus in the beach front Copacabana area to go to Lapa, a popular nightspot. Two of the attackers, who were armed with an iron bar, are said to have then ordered the rest of the passengers on to the street before driving off. After picking up an accomplice in Sao Gonçalo, 25 miles away, the men took turns driving the minibus while the others raped her. Her boyfriend was handcuffed and hit in the face with the iron bar.

The gang used the pair’s credit cards to buy energy drinks and whisky as they were intent on having a “party of evil”, tourist police chief Alexandre Braga said. The gang even took the couple back to their apartment to pick up more bank cards, before releasing them at about 6am.

Two men – Jonathan Foudakis de Souza, 20, and Wallace Aparecido Souza Silva, 22 – were arrested hours after the assault ended. A third suspect, Carlos Armando Costa dos Santos, 21, was arrested on Monday night. The three have been charged with rape, robbery and corrupting a minor.

Since the publicity surrounding the attack, six other victims have come forward after allegedly being robbed and assaulted in similar fashion. One, a 21-year-old Brazilian woman, said she had been held and raped after she boarded the same van on 23 March.

But police officials were keen to play down the significance of the attacks. “This is a crime that shames Rio but the arrests were made quickly,” Mr Braga said. “This case is not usual in the city.”

In Brazil, the number of rapes reported between 2009 and 2012 rose by 157 per cent, an increase attributed partly to widespread awareness campaigns and a change in the law which broadened the definition of the crime. In the first half of 2012, there were 5,300 reports of rape in Brazil.

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