Arrests in Marielle Franco killing, Rio police in spotlight

Ex-police officers arrested in killing of Rio de Janeiro council member Marielle Franco

Mr. Queiroz, accused of driving the silver Chevrolet Cobalt used in the ambush of Ms. Franco, was expelled from the corporation in 2016 when he was found guilty of providing illegal security services to an illegal gambling house in Rio de Janeiro. "We are calling for the Brazilian authorities to ensure that investigations are independent and impartial, and to bring all those responsible, including those who ordered the crime, to justice in fair trials". Lawyers for both men denied their involvement in the assassination.

"The investigations have revealed to us the possibility (of Lessa's) participation in paramilitary activities", Sibilo said, adding that Lessa's "name has come up in" connection with other homicides. Lessa and Queiroz. While scouring the residence of the former, police found dismantled assault rifles alongside ammunition, raising the suspicion that the firearms were intended for sale.

Elcio Vieira de Queiroz, 46, who had been sacked from the military police, also was arrested in a pre-dawn operation that was broadcast live on television.

A close ally of Bolsonaro, Witzel ran on promises to get tough on crime in a state traditionally riddled with it, including by using sharpshooters to take out armed drug dealers in favelas. He did not say which son dated the woman, nor when.

Additionally, shortly after the suspects were arrested, a photo of Queiroz circulated on social media, wearing a police T-shirt, with his arm around Jair Bolsonaro. Reuters was unable to locate the profile or verify the authenticity of the photo.

The two men were taken into custody early Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, police said. Marielle's killing was a blatant attempt to silence a fearless human rights defender, who had devoted her life to advocating for women, LGBTI people and black youth in Rio favelas.

Ex-police officers arrested in killing of Rio de Janeiro council member Marielle Franco

Ms Franco was returning from an event encouraging black women's empowerment on 14 March 2018 when a vehicle drew alongside hers and nine shots rang out.

Marcelo Freixo, a state legislator and friend of Franco from the same left-leaning party, told Globo TV that the arrests were an important step, but the case "has not been resolved".

Thousands took to the streets in protest across Brazil after the killings, which drew worldwide condemnation from rights groups.

It remained to be seen if there are any repercussions for the president, who is in the midst of negotiating with Congress on pension reform.

Flavio Bolsonaro, a senator, is being investigated for money laundering during his time as a Rio state lawmaker, and is under pressure to explain how family members of one of the city's most powerful militia leaders ended up on his legislative payroll at the time.

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