Rio mugger shot dead by 'Russian diplomat' with own gun close to Olympic torch relay
The eve of the Olympics in Rio witnessed a dramatic fatal shooting on Thursday after a man reported to be the Russian vice-consul killed an armed mugger just after the torch relay had passed by.
Marcos Cezar Feres Braga, described by local police as a Brazilian lawyer who works at the Russian consulate, was said to have grabbed an assailant’s gun and shot him dead at point-blank range.
However, the Russian embassy in the capital Brasilia issued a statement saying "no representative of the Russian consulate general in Rio de Janeiro was involved in an attempted assault ending with the death of the suspect."
The statement said all diplomatic employees were Russian citizens "with Russian names, which is not the case" in the reported assault.
The would-be mugger, on a motorbike with another man, struck as Mr Braga was sitting in his car waiting for traffic to move after the Olympic torch passed by on Avenida das Americas, not far from the Olympic Park and athletes village.
The attacker was said to have smashed the window of his BMW X6 and pointed a gun at him, demanding he hand over his watch.
Mr Braga managed to pull his assailant inside the car, where a struggle ensued.
The mugger, who was on a motorbike with another man, struck at around midday as Mr Braga was waiting for traffic to start moving again after the Olympic torch had passed by on Avenida das Americas in the Barra da Tijuca district of Rio, close to the Olympic Park and athletes village.
Olympic cyclists from Slovenia were passing by on a training exercise at the moment of the shooting, according to witnesses.
Brazilian news site Extra reported that Mr Braga was carrying Russian diplomatic papers and that he was a native of Rio and an expert in jiu-jitsu, a popular martial art in Brazil that specialises in self-defence.
The body of the mugger, named as Leonardo Lopes Batista, lay for several hours on the road as police underwent investigations and was seen by various delegations which passed by on the special Olympic lanes close to the crime scene.
One witness told how the mugger broke the window before shouting: “You’ve lost, hand over your watch.”
His accomplice reportedly fled after seeing his partner suddenly hauled inside the car.
In a statement, Rio’s 31st Military Police Battalion, which investigated the incident, said Mr Braga “acted quickly pulling the criminal inside the car, took his revolver and fired it towards him.”