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    Brazil's public services have been militarized in an attempt to combat high murder rates by gangs at high risk to civilians. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 April 2019

The driver, Evaldo dos Santos Rosa, was taking his family to a baby shower when he was shot dead by Brazilian troops.

The Brazilian Army said on Monday that 10 soldiers have been arrested and charged with shooting into a car carrying an innocent family in Rio de Janiero, killing the driver and injuring two other people Sunday evening.

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Police accused soldiers of firing over 80 shots into the car, killing Evaldo dos Santos Rosa, 51, who was driving his family to a baby shower in northern Rio de Janiero, - a passenger and passerby were also injured.

Investigators believe that the soldiers confused the car for another of the same color driven by alleged gang members who had shot at them, according to TV Globo.

The incident has highlighted the risks of a growing militarization of public security in Brazil, where violence spurred by warring gangs led to a record 64,000 murders in 2017. Over the last few years, Brazil has come to rely more heavily on the military to impose law and order from poorly trained, financially stretched state police forces.

 
"One man was killed and another wounded Sunday after Army soldiers fired at the car they were in in Guadeloupe. Images circulate on social networks, showing the moment of the shots," O Globo Rio tweeted.
 

In a statement, the Eastern Military Command said 10 of the 12 soldiers involved in the incident were arrested, due to inconsistencies between their initial statements and facts that later came to light. They were charged with "noncompliance with rules of engagement" and their case will be heard by military justice, the Eastern Military Command added.

For much of last year, Brazil's military took over public security in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The number of murders in 2018 fell 7 percent from the previous year down to 4,950 that year, state data show. Still, the number of people killed in confrontations with security forces rose 36 percent over the same period.

President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain who later served nearly three decades as a Rio de Janeiro federal lawmaker, took office on Jan. 1 vowing to confront Brazil's violent gangs. His approval ratingsin his first three months in office are the worst of any sitting president since the country overcame a military dictatorship and returned to a democracy.

In its statement, the Eastern Military Command repudiated excesses or abuses committed by soldiers, and reiterated the army's "commitment to transparency and legal parameters imposed by the rule of law to the legitimate use of force by its members."


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