Brazilian soldiers charged in death of civilian

View of the car at which Brazilian soldiers in Rio de Janeiro fired more than 80 shots, killing an innocent civilian, on April 7, 2019. Photo made available on April 8, 2019. EFE-EPA/ Fabio Teixeira

RIO DE JANEIRO.- The Brazilian army on Monday placed under arrest 10 soldiers implicated in the fatal shooting of an unarmed motorist.

The victim, a 51-year-old musician, died Sunday in Rio de Janeiro after troops fired more than 80 shots at the vehicle carrying himself, his wife, their 7-year-old son, the wife’s father and another woman.

In an initial statement released on Sunday, the army said that the troops opened fire in response to gunfire directed at them.

However, on Monday the army acknowledged the presence of «inconsistencies» in the statements given by the soldiers implicated in the incident.

«By virtue of inconsistencies identified among the facts initially reported and other information that later came to the Eastern Military Command, it was determined that the soldiers involved would be immediately suspended and they were turned over to the Judicial Military Police Department» for questioning, according to a statement.

Ten of the 12 soldiers were then ordered held pending charges.

In the incident, another of the passengers riding in the vehicle was wounded – but is in stable condition – as was a passerby who tried to help and whose condition is unknown at present.

«Everything indicates that the soldiers really did confuse the car with a bandits’ vehicle. But in this vehicle was a family. Not a single weapon was found. Everything shows that this was a normal family, an upstanding one, who ended up being the victims of the soldiers,» police detective inspector Leonardo Salgado said in remarks to the program «Fantastico» on Sunday evening.

The army said that the troops involved in the incident will be turned over to Military Justice.

The wave of violence besetting Rio de Janeiro since the 2016 Olympic Games has left more than 6,000 people dead each year, a situation that the military takeover of public safety measures for most of 2018 could not halt.

During the 10 months that the military was in charge of public safety in Rio, 1,375 people died in incidents involving police, 33.6 percent more than during the same period in 2017, according to figures compiled by an independent watchdog group.

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