Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil police charged with Rio murder over Amarildo case

Ten Brazilian police officers have been charged with murdering Amarildo de Souza, a bricklayer who lived in Rio de Janeiro's biggest shanty town Rocinha.

Mr Souza, 43, has not been seen since 14 July, when he was taken by police officers who were investigating drug-trafficking activities at the favela.

A court ordered the arrest of the officers who all deny any involvement.

The case has drawn attention to allegations of police violence in the "pacification" of Rio's favelas.

Critics say it is symptomatic of a large number of disappearances in Rio and the lack of investigation into them.

Mr Souza's wife, Elizabete Gomes da Silva, told BBC Brasil's Julia Carneiro she last saw her husband on 14 July as he went to buy seasoning for some fish he had caught for the family dinner.

Image caption The campaign for a probe into the builder's disappearance grew into a nationwide movement

She said neither he nor any of their six children had ever heard from him again.

'Tortured to death'

Now, 10 members of the UPP (Pacifying Police Units) have been charged with torturing and murdering Mr Souza, then hiding his body.

Among those indicted is the commander of the UPP in Rocinha, Edson dos Santos.

Investigators said four of those charged took Mr Souza to the police post where he was questioned prior to his disappearance. They said the other five were on duty at the police post to which Mr Souza was taken.

The inquiry says Mr Souza was epileptic and died during a questioning session in which he was tortured.

The officers say they released Mr Souza and that they had nothing to do with his subsequent disappearance.

The UPP were created to regain state control of favelas run by drug lords ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Their alleged involvement in Mr Souza's disappearance has led to protests in Rio and other cities both in Brazil and abroad.

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