Saturday, July 28, 2007

Brazil: Corrupt policemen arrested


Rio de Janeiro police arrested two fellow officers this week, accused of extorting money from two American tourists who happened to be San Francisco cops on holiday.
"One of the victims identified the officers and they are under administrative arrest for now," a police spokesperson in Rio said. The crime-ridden city is swarming with tourists for the Pan American Games, which end tomorrow.
The US tourists were leaving a nightclub in Rio's Copacabana beach neighbourhood before dawn on Wednesday, when two uniformed police officers approached them and searched them for drugs. At night, the neighbourhood is a red-light district with several brothels and strip joints. Although no drugs were found, the officers told the tourists they would have to pay a bribe or be arrested.
One of the Americans went back to their hotel to fetch the equivalent of some $2 200 (R15 700) in local and foreign currency. The Brazilian policemen then took off with the money and an MP3 player.
Corruption is rife in Rio's police force despite the authorities' efforts to root out bad cops. Officers, who often have to confront well-armed drug gangs, complain they are underpaid and many have to moonlight as private security guards to make ends meet.
Policing in Rio has been heavily reinforced in the last three weeks during the Pan American Games. No major incidents have been reported after months of daily gunbattles in the city's sprawling hillside slums. - Reuters

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