Brazil’s Gang Violence Topples Director of Prisons and Opens Probe on Revenge Killings

Brazil’s São Paulo state top prison official Nagashi Furukawa resigned Friday two weeks after a wave of violence ordered by jailed gang leaders killed at least 150 people including 42 police and prison guards.

Apparently Mr. Furukawa, São Paulo state Director of Prisons, clashed with state officials over the handling of the situation, and police has been accused of the killing of 110 people in a spree of revenge following the first wave of attacks on police stations.

An independent commission made up of officials from the Attorney General’s Office, lawyers and human rights activists is scheduled to investigate claims of summary shootings by the police of innocent São Paulo residents.

Police officers have provided prosecutors with names and autopsy reports of the dead but have not furnished details of the circumstances of the deaths

Investigators are to focus specifically on the death of as many as 34 people in the São Paulo suburb of Guarulhos, one of the battlefields in the week-long war between police and the First Command of the Capital, PCC (Primeiro Comando da Capital), whose leaders were angry at planned transfers to high security jails and the confiscation of cellular phones.

"Authorities deny abuses and police insist that their forces acted in legitimate defense and in compliance with their duty. But we understand that things did not exactly happen that way," said attorney Francisco Lúcio França.

Human rights groups claim that after the PCC launched attacks on police stations in São Paulo, security forces retaliated with a wave of vengeance killings in poor neighborhoods on the city’s outskirts.

França said it has been impossible to establish exactly how many people were summarily executed by police, and he blamed authorities for failing to release the complete list of victims and autopsies.

"We didn’t have access to the complete list and to autopsy findings," the lawyer said.

"The commission will probably request the findings and police bulletins that were not turned over to prosecutors."

If the panel determines that police engaged in summary executions, it will likely sue the state of Sao Paulo to obtain compensation for victims’ families.

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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