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Former police officers sentenced for torturing "O Dia" journalists

(ABRAJI/IFEX) - Former police officers Odin Fernandes da Silva and Davi Liberato de Araújo were convicted for being part of the militia that kidnapped and tortured a team of journalists from "O Dia" newspaper in the Batan Favela area, Rio de Janeiro, in May 2008. Judge Alexandre Abrahão sentenced both individuals to 31 years in prison on 12 August 2009.

In pronouncing the sentence, the judge said that the suspects "constrained" the victims with the use of violence and serious threats, causing physical and mental suffering, in their efforts to obtain information. Besides torturing the journalists, the militia also stole personal items that were not recovered.

Arrested by the Suppression of Organized Criminal Acts and Special Investigations police (Draco-IE) during the Operation Eagle Nest, both of the accused are currently in prison at Complexo de Gericinó.

The newspaper team lived in the Batan Favela slum for two weeks to investigate the actions of the local militia. The journalists were kidnapped, tortured and kept in prison by militia members.

ABRAJI welcomes the court decision and adds that the punishment of the guilty persons is crucial to avoid new attacks on journalists and violations of freedom of expression.

Militias are military organizations composed of common citizens that, in theory, are not part of the armed forces of a country. In Rio de Janeiro, the term "militia" has been associated with illegal practices. They are usually groups formed in urban and poor communities under the pretext of fighting drug trafficking. They are financed by the local population in exchange for the promise of protection.

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