Around 600 agents from the National Public Security Force will begin to operate in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the next few days. According to Brazilian Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, the team’s assignment has no time limit.
Bastos was summoned by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to discuss the progress of investigations into the massacre that occurred in the Lowland Region just outside the city of Rio.
Thirty people were assassinated last Friday, April 1st, in the early morning hours. A witness reported to the Federal Police and identified four military policemen alleged to have participated in the bloodbath. Three of them have already been arrested.
“We cannot claim that the crime has been unraveled, but we are following a firm path that now needs to be confirmed by the rest of the investigations,” observed the Minister, who, complying with President Lula’s request, mobilized federal forces to act in the case. The Federal Police has already begun an official investigation.
As for the possibility of the federal government’s sending a Task Force to the state, Bastos believes that the model of joint action used in the most recent operations is the most appropriate.
He referred to recent cases, such as the ones in Unaí, state of Minas Gerais, where three fiscal inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and a driver were assassinated in January, 2004; Felisburgo, also in Minas, where five bivouacked members of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement were murdered last November; and Anapu, state of Pará, where the missioniary nun, Dorothy Stang, was killed in January.
According to the Minister, these were cases in which cooperation with local police made it possible to uncover the crimes and arrest the chief suspects.
Translation: David Silberstein