Evidence mounts in killings of hundreds of people in country’s largest city
Evidence is mounting that police are behind a wave of death squad-style killings that has left hundreds of people dead in Brazil’s largest city in recent months.
Last weekend two officers were arrested in connection with a string of attacks by death squads in the west of greater São Paulo that left four people dead. They joined more than 20 others already being held for suspected involvement in death squads or for carrying out summary executions while on duty.
Authorities confirmed that two investigations have been opened into the possible involvement of a group of officers in the killing of 35 people by death squads in the greater São Paulo city of Guarulhos, home to Brazil’s main international airport.
The latest arrests prompted São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin to promise “zero tolerance” for officers involved in murders, though he denied any knowledge of death squads operating in the state’s police.
But Fernando Grella, São Paulo’s state secretary for security, admitted the possibility of death squads made up of police officers.
The admission is a marked change for the state’s political and police leadership, which had previously denied the existence of such groups – a denial human rights groups say created a sense of impunity within the force.
The most dramatic evidence of likely police involvement was the emergence of security camera footage that showed two poor youths being shot dead last month by two men on a motorbike.
The footage clearly shows that police officers were within 50m of the scene when the killings took place and provided an escort for the killers as they made their escape. Eleven officers are now under arrest in connection with the killing.
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