Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil: City of God actor wanted for killing Rio policeman

Residents look on as policemen patrol during an operation against drug dealers in Cidade de Deus slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 10, 2017 Image copyright Reuters

Police in Brazil say one of the child actors from the acclaimed film City of God is a suspect in Sunday's killing of an officer in one of Rio de Janeiro's shantytowns, or favelas.

Ivan da Silva Martins played a small part as a gang member in the film.

He is now 34 and is thought to control drug trafficking in the Vidigal favela.

The film was released in Brazil in 2002, exposing to the rest of the world the bitter reality of crime, violence and poverty in Rio's favelas.

Mr Martins was one of many boys and teenagers recruited from the city's poorest quarters to work as actors in the film.

He is now believed to be feared by the Vidigal community where police says he is known as Ivan the Terrible.

City of God director Fernando Meirelles said he had gradually lost contact with all the young actors, but told O Globo newspaper that he was "saddened by the news".

The film begins in the early 1960s and follows the life of a young boy who becomes a drug lord in Cidade de Deus (City of God), a favela in the outskirts of Rio.

It became a surprise blockbuster and received four Oscar nominations.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Clashes between police and drug traffickers are common in Rio's favelas

Fifteen years later, violence is again on the rise in Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro.

The policeman shot dead on Sunday, Sgt Hudson Araujo, was the 91st officer killed this year in the state of Rio.

Brazil is now going through the worst recession in its history.

The finances of many states, including Rio, have collapsed and there is no prospect of a solution for Brazil's serious political crisis.

The families of police officers say their loved ones are paying a heavy price for trying to fight crime without the resources and equipment required.

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