Brazilian Court Reverses Release of TV Reporter's Killer

TV reporter Tim Lopes A court from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which oversees sentence implementation has reversed a decision to put Cláudio Orlando "Ratinho" de Nascimento, one of the convicted killers of Rede Globo television reporter Tim Lopes, on a semi-release regime that let him out of prison by day to visit relatives and friends.

The prison administration granted "Ratinho" semi-release in December 2008 as he had fulfilled the legal requirement by completing a sixth of his sentence with good behavior. But Judge Rafael Estrela quashed the decision on the grounds that he escaped while serving a previous sentence for another crime.

Reputedly a leading gangster in the Rio de Janeiro favela of Vila Cruzeiro, "Ratinho" was arrested shortly after Lopes' murder in June 2002 and was given a 23-year and six-month jail sentence in 2005.

Police say that it was "Ratinho" who was above all responsible for the torture of Lopes from the time of his abduction until his execution. Lopes was kidnapped and killed while investigating corruption of minors in Vila Cruzeiro.

The TV reporter was investigating sexual exploitation of minors by drug traffickers in the Rio de Janeiro favela of Vila del Cruzeiro in June 2002 when he was kidnapped, tortured and finally hacked to death by members the "Crazy Elias" gang, who burned his body.

In all, seven gang members were given sentences ranging from 23 to 28 years in prison for his murder. Another, Claudino "Xuxa" dos Santos Coelho, was also granted semi-release in December 2008.

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