Militia leader accused of torturing reporters surrenders


JUNE 16, 2008
Posted June 20, 2008

O Dia

Odinei Fernando da Silva, a police officer believed to be the leader of a paramilitary group that kidnapped and tortured two journalists and a driver working undercover for the Rio de Janeiro-based daily O Dia, surrendered to police according to international news reports. Local authorities had previously arrested another alleged militia member. O Dia has not identified the journalists or the driver for fear of retaliation

On June 4, Rio police arrested Davi Liberato de Araujo, the man believed to be da Silva’s second in command. De Araujo reportedly denied the torture allegations even after the O Dia team identified him as their aggressor.

Da Silva, a former prison guard and security officer at a psychiatric hospital, turned himself in to the Rio state organized crime unit on June 16, according to The New York Times. He had been at large since June 2. Da Silva, who was accompanied by a lawyer, also denied the accusations of torture and being part of a paramilitary group, Jorge Gerhard, head of Rio police intelligence, told The New York Times.

On the night of May 14, a reporter, a photographer, and a driver working undercover for O Dia in Batan, a shantytown in the western outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, were kidnapped at gunpoint by armed men, who at least once identified themselves as members of the local police, according to a special O Dia report published June 1. The kidnappers beat the journalists and the driver repeatedly, gave them electric shocks, put plastic bags over their heads, and threatened to kill them. The team was released seven hours later, said the report.