Brazil: Vigils held for Rio politician killed in drive-by shooting

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A handout photo made available by CMRJ dated on November 23, 2017 shows Councilwoman Marielle FrancoImage copyright EPA
Image caption Marielle Franco was born in Favela da Mare, one of Rio’s most violent shanty towns

Thousands of people in Rio de Janeiro are taking part in a vigil for a murdered Brazilian politician who had campaigned against police brutality.

Marielle Franco, 38, was a Rio city councillor for the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party.

Ms Franco and her driver were both shot dead while in her car on Wednesday evening.

Her killing has caused outrage and protests are being held in cities across Brazil.

‘Targeted’

Ms Franco was returning from an event encouraging black women’s empowerment in central Rio when a car drew alongside hers and nine shots rang out.

She and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were both killed, and her press officer, who was sitting in the back seat of the car, was injured.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thousands gather as the coffins of Ms Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, arrive at Rio’s City Council

Police officials said it appeared Ms Franco had been deliberately targeted.

She was shot four times in the head and three bullets hit Mr Gomes.

Ms Franco was elected to the city council in 2016 and presided over the women’s commission.

Last month, she was chosen to be the speaker of the commission overseeing the deployment of federal security forces into Rio’s favelas.

Brazilian President Michel Temer deployed the military in the state of Rio in February after a spike in violent crime during carnival.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police took away Ms Franco’s car for further investigation

The measure was approved by Brazil’s Congress but has stirred controversy with some residents complaining about harassment.

Ms Franco, who grew up in Mare, a favela complex in the north of the city, has been an outspoken critic of the move to deploy the army and the federal police force.

On Tuesday she posted on Twitter about the killing in the Manguinhos favela of a 23-year-old man, which the youth’s family blamed on the military police.

“Another killing of a youth which could end up on the PM [military police] tally. Matheus Melo was leaving church. How many more will have to die before this war ends?” she asked.

In another tweet she expressed her solidarity with the people of the favela of Acari.

“What is happening now in Acari is absurd!” she posted. “The 41st battalion of the military police is known as the battalion of death. Enough of trampling all over the population! Enough of killing our youth!” she wrote, adding a picture with the words “We’re all Acari, stop killing us!”

The federal government said it was investigating the shooting.

Amnesty International urged that the investigation be rigorous and focus on “the context, motive and responsibility” for the killing.

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