“We saw a corpse whose face was covered with a white powder, which looked like cocaine”, testified Rodrigo Mondego, head of the human rights commission at the Rio bar, after the police operation which killed more than 20 people on Tuesday in Vila Cruzeiro, a favela in Rio de Janeiro.
“Those who killed this person smeared cocaine on his face and possibly made him eat it. This is an act of torture,” he said, adding that there were also testimonies of people killed with bladed weapons.
According to the latest report from the health authorities who counted the corpses, 26 people died during the raid, including a 41-year-old woman hit by a stray bullet.
But Rio police, who say they were met with heavy gunfire in Vila Cruzeiro, revised their death toll to 23 on Thursday, saying three bodies came from another favela 5km away where clashes were believed to have taken place. between drug traffickers.
Rodrigo Mondego said he went to Vila Cruzeiro on Tuesday while the operation was still underway, at the request of representatives of a neighborhood association.
– “Slaughtered in the woods” –
“We also suspect a large number of summary executions. Witnesses told us that men who had surrendered to the police were shot in the woods” on the upper part of the favela, he said.
According to him, the report of the police operation alone reinforces these suspicions of extrajudicial executions: “if we consult the statistics all over the world, we will never see a shooting where more than 20 people die in a camp and none in the other”.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday opened an investigation into “possible violations” of human rights perpetrated by agents in Vila Cruzeiro.
The Brazilians were also shocked by the death of a man, asphyxiated after being placed in the trunk of a police car. The scene, filmed by a witness, went viral on the Internet.
The Federal Traffic Police (PRF) assured in a statement on Thursday that the agents had “employed techniques of immobilization and instruments with low offensive potential” in the face of the “aggressiveness” of Genivaldo de Jesus Santos, 38, during a a routine check.
– “They’re going to kill him!” –
The facts took place on Wednesday on a road near Umbauba, a town of 25,000 inhabitants in the state of Sergipe (northeast).
The video clearly shows two helmeted PRF officers attempting to close the trunk of a car on a man whose legs are still sticking out. A thick white smoke which seems to come from a tear gas canister escapes from the trunk.
We can hear cries of pain and the comments of a witness exclaiming: “they will kill him!”
The man moves his legs for about a minute, then becomes motionless. Officers then fold up his legs and close the trunk.
In a statement, the organization Human Rights Watch expressed its “dismay”.
The Brazilian police are one of those who kill the most in the world: in 2021, more than 6,100 people died in police operations, and 183 officers were murdered, according to figures from a violence monitoring organization.
Called a “massacre” by many elected officials and community activists, Tuesday’s operation resulted in the second worst toll in Rio’s history for a police raid in a favela.
The sad record dates from a year ago, with 28 dead, including a policeman, during an incursion by the police into the Jacarezinho favela.
On Tuesday evening, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro praised law enforcement “warriors” for “neutralizing at least 20 misfits linked to drug trafficking”.