Brazilian military rule torturer Paulo Malhaes found dead

File picture of Paulo Malhaes Paulo Malhaes said he never regretted his actions

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A Brazilian former army colonel who admitted torturing and killing political prisoners under military rule up to the 1980s has been found dead.

Paulo Malhaes, 76, was killed by three men who entered his home outside Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, police say.

Last month, he said he never regretted killing "as many people as necessary" and tortured "many" prisoners.

Almost 500 people disappeared or were killed in Brazil when it was ruled by the army between 1964 and 1985.

Thousands more were detained and tortured, including current President Dilma Rousseff.

According to his wife, Col Malhaes was suffocated by three men who broke into their home. Police say the assailants stole computers and some guns.

Graphic testimony

Prominent Brazilian lawyer Wadih Damous said the intruders may have been after secret files he held.

"He was an important agent of political repression during the dictatorship and held much information about events that occurred behind the scenes at the time," Mr Damous said.

Activists in Rio de Janeiro mark the 50th anniversary of the coup that led to the 1964-1985 military rule, on April 1, 2014. Brazil recently marked 50 years since the 1964 coup that led to the 1964-1985 military government

Last month Col Malhaes appeared before Brazil's National Truth Commission, which is investigating past abuses.

He gave graphic testimony on how he had tortured many political prisoners. "I did my duty. I have no regrets," he told the commission.

He defended his actions saying that the people he killed and tortured were "guerrillas who fought an armed struggle".

Brazilian police say they are looking for CCTV images which might help identify Col Malhaes' killers.

On 1 April, Brazil marked 50 years since the 1964 coup that led to the military government.

President Rousseff said the atrocities committed during that time must never be forgotten.

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