Two police arrested in Brazil over killing of black activist

Brazilian councilwoman from the left-wing party PSOL Marielle Franco, who was an outspoken critic of police brutality, was shot in Rio's city center in an assassination-style killing.
Brazilian councilwoman from the left-wing party PSOL Marielle Franco, who was an outspoken critic of police brutality, was shot in Rio's city center in an assassination-style killing.
Image: Mario VASCONCELLOS / Rio de Janeiro Municipal Chamber / AFP

Two policemen were arrested Tuesday in the killing of Brazilian black activist Marielle Franco, news reports said.

These are the first arrests in a case that shocked Brazil.

Franco was a left-leaning Rio city councillor who grew up in a slum and went on to become a respected defender of blacks, the poor and the LGTB community.

She was killed a year ago in a drive-by shooting, along with her driver, Anderson Gomes.

Franco was also an outspoken critic of police violence against poor people.

News website G1 reported the arrests, quoting homicide police.

A sergeant in the military police, Roni Lessa, 48, was arrested on suspicion of being the shooter, G1 said.

And Elcio Vieira de Queiroz, 46, who was reportedly expelled from the military police, is suspected of having driven the car from which Franco was gunned down on March 14 of last year in downtown Rio.

Prosecutors in a special organized crime unit say the shooting was meticulously planned over the course of three months, G1 added.

After Rio hosted the summer Olympics in 2016, violence increased between drug gangs as well as between these gangs and paramilitary police militia and security forces.

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