Tuesday 11 December 2018

Two police arrested after tourist shot dead in Rio slum

A bullet hole in the back window of the car in which the Spanish tourist was travelling (AP)
A bullet hole in the back window of the car in which the Spanish tourist was travelling (AP)

Two military police officers have been arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of a Spanish tourist who was on a guided tour of one of Brazil's largest slums, an official said.

Police said Maria Esperanza Jimenez Ruiz was shot in the neck on Monday when the vehicle she was travelling in failed to stop at a police checkpoint in Rio de Janeiro's Rocinha neighborhood.

The 67-year-old was taken to hospital but died from her injuries.

Officers said they could not see inside the car because it had darkly tinted windows, according to Fabio Cardoso, an inspector with the civil police force, which investigates crimes.

The driver has said he never saw the checkpoint or a request to stop.

"I want to be clear that a car not following a police order does not justify shooting," Mr Cardoso told reporters at a news conference.

He said Lieutenant Davi dos Santos Ribeiro fired the fatal shot and was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

Another officer, who has not been named, shot into the air and was also arrested, Mr Cardoso added.

Six firearms have been seized.

The death will increase scrutiny of military police officers, who are accused by many critics of shooting first and asking questions later, and also of tour companies that take curious foreigners to areas with frequent conflicts.

Ms Jimenez Ruiz, from El Puerto de Santa Maria, was with her brother and sister-in-law and a guide as they left the Rocinha slum after a tour, Mr Cardoso said.

After the shots were fired, the car continued for about 30 metres before stopping at another police checkpoint, at which point the passengers realised Ms Jimenez Ruiz had been hit.

Rocinha has been the scene of intense firefights between police and drug traffickers, and the army has occasionally been called in to support police operations.

Authorities say they are investigating why a tour company would take tourists to what they have labelled a "conflict area" and will consider criminal charges.

Valeria Aragao, an inspector with the tourism police, has said the tourists may have thought the heavy police presence in Rocinha meant it was safe, when it actually signals the opposite.

For years, tourist visits to slums, or favelas, were common. Many of the areas are culturally and architecturally rich, and include top samba schools, musicians and artists.

However, amid Brazil's economic crisis in recent years and a rise in violence, visits to favelas have become much less frequent.

AP

Press Association

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