Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil judge Patricia Acioli shot dead in Niteroi

Funeral procession for Patricia Acioli in Niteroi, Brazil (12 Aug 2011)
Image caption Patricia Acioli was buried on Friday in her home town of Nteroi

A Brazilian judge renowned for her work against organised crime has been shot dead in Rio de Janeiro State.

Patricia Acioli was gunned down outside her home in the city of Niteroi late on Thursday by masked men travelling on two motorbikes, officials said.

She was best known for convicting members of vigilante gangs and corrupt police officers.

The judge's family said she had received several death threats, but had not had a police escort.

Witnesses told AFP the gunmen intercepted the mother-of-three's car as she was arriving at home in Niteroi, just across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro.

They had fired at least 16 shots, killing the 47-year-old instantly, reports said. Her funeral service was held on Friday in Niteroi.

Brazil's Supreme Court condemned the killing as an attack on democracy and the rule of law.

"Cowardly crimes against magistrates are an attack on the independence of the judiciary, the state and Brazilian democracy," Supreme Court President Cezar Peluso said in a statement.

"The preservation of the rule of law in our country demands a rapid investigation of the facts and a rigorous punishment of those responsible for this barbarous act."

Rio has stepped up its campaign against violent crime ahead of hosting football's World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, correspondents say.

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