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Police Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) officers patrol as residents move about the Sao Carlos slum complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 15, 2015 (AP photo/Felipe Dana).

Investigation Could End Impunity for Brazil’s Elite Police Unit

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The investigation of an elite police unit in Brazil for allegedly trying to cover up the disappearance of a Rio de Janeiro man may represent an opportunity to restore the public’s trust in the rule of law, and perhaps repair the reputation of a controversial program to pacify favelas.

The disappearance of Amarildo da Souza, a 47-year-old bricklayer who was last seen by witnesses in July 2013 being led into a local police base in Rio’s Rocinha favela, provoked immediate outrage. Residents and civil society groups demanded justice; prosecutors soon launched an investigation that ultimately resulted in charges of murder, kidnapping and other offenses against 25 officers from the base. Their trials are ongoing. Recently, the case has expanded even further, offering the authorities a new chance to build trust in a policing strategy that has garnered impressive results while provoking outrage over harsh tactics. ...

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