Brazilian Policeman Suspect of Torturing Journalists Surrenders

Suspect policeman Odnei Fernando da Silva A Brazilian civilian police inspector who is accused of heading the militia that kidnapped and tortured two O Dia journalists and their driver in Rio de Janeiro's Batan favela on May 14, 2008, surrendered to Brazil's authorities on June 16.

Odnei Fernando da Silva, also known as "01", "Dinei" and "íguia" (Eagle), went with his lawyer to the headquarters of the Department for Repression of Criminal Actions and Special Investigations (DRACO) to give himself up. He had been on the run since June 4, when a warrant for his arrest was issued.

In an initial statement, da Silva denied any involvement in the abduction and torture of the newspaper's three employees. He suggested he had an alibi, claiming that he was at a party in the Rio de Janeiro neighborhood of Bangu at the time of the crime.

Asked about his relationship with the gang's alleged No. 2, Davi Liberato de Araújo, he said he had known him since childhood but no longer kept his company.

Da Silva was taken to a special detention center for policemen inside the Gericinó prison complex.

Reacting to the news, international press organization Reporters Without Borders stated that the group hailed this latest progress in the investigation and hoped that the police "would quickly establish exactly who was responsible for the barbaric treatment inflicted on O Dia's employees."

On June 4, a man arrested on suspicion of being a member of the militia that kidnapped and tortured  the O Dia employees was shown to the press by members of DRACO.

He was identified as Davi Liberato de Araújo, 32, also known as "02" because he is alleged to be second-in-command of the militia. Liberato, who is serving a jail sentence in which he is now periodically allowed out, claims he was in prison at the time of the kidnapping.

At that time, the police also announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for da Silva, a former prison guard who previously imprisoned for homicide.

The DRACO reported that it was investigating the possibility that members of the military police were also involved in the Batan militia and that the militia used a clandestine cemetery.

The "O Dia" reporter who was one of the three people who were kidnapped has meanwhile claimed that, while being tortured, she recognized the voice of an assistant to Coronel Jairo, a member of the Rio de Janeiro state parliament. Jairo has denied having anything to do with the militia and condemns its activities.

RSF

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