A Brazilian police officer who spoke at a technology conference in New York on Tuesday about the potential of a new smartphone app to aid in the “pacification” of Rio de Janeiro’s lawless favelas was indicted the same day by prosecutors back home in connection with a notorious case of torture and murder by her unit in July. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/rio-police-officer-indicted-for-torture-while-lecturing-on-smart-policing-in-new-york/?ref=world
The officer, Vanessa Coimbra, appeared on stage at the Google Ideas summit on “Conflict in a Connected World” to describe field testing of the Smart Policing Android app, designed to promote accountability by transforming every beat cop’s smartphone into a wearable camera.
Three hours before Ms. Coimbra’s presentation, she was charged with failing to prevent the torture and murder of a man suspected by fellow officers from the Pacifying Police Unit in Rio’s Rocinha favela of having information on drug dealers. Prosecutors have been under pressure to act in the case since the mysterious disappearance of the Rocinha resident, Amarildo Dias de Souza, became a focus of demonstrations across Brazil this summer.
Although officers in Rocinha were involved in field tests of the app in July, when the torture and killing took place, there is apparently no video evidence that could help prosecutors since the testing was at a preliminary phase that was primarily technical in nature. Rather than recording every minute of every officer’s day, in recent months the cameras were simply dropped off with individual officers once or twice a week and then collected at the end of the day to check the technical quality of the recordings, which were then erased.
According to prosecutor Carmen Elisa Bastos, Lt. Luiz Felipe de Medeiros, Sgt. Reinaldo Gonçalves and Officers Anderson Maia and Douglas Vital tortured Amarildo after the bricklayer was taken, following orders of Major Edson Santos. They wanted to know the location of weapons and drugs hidden in the slum, after Operation Armed Peace had not led to results.
According to the testimonies, for about 40 minutes Amarildo underwent asphyxiation with a bag over his head and mouth, shocks with a taser gun, waterboarding in bucket with water from the air-conditioning unit of the U.P.P. in which blood traces were found.
According to the prosecutor, 11 policemen were ordered by the Lieutenant to stay inside the container and could hear the violence. Twelve others stayed on the lookout. Also according to the testimonies, Maj. Edson Santos remained in the container upstairs, in front of the site where the torture happened. Witnesses also reported hearing a request to bring a motorcycle plastic cover to wrap the body in, the noise of tape and of the body being removed from the tank through the roof in front of the woods.
The charges against the officers in the Amarildo case are the latest blow to a project that has been heavily financed by corporate backers. In August, the embattled Brazilian business tycoon Eike Batista — whose annual contributions of nearly $10 million had paid for U.P.P. equipment, uniforms, weapons, ammunition and training — withdrew his financial support for the project.
Senior Defense Department officials have been accelerating a dialogue with China, carried out through personal visits with Chinese counterparts to establish and strengthen military-to-military relationships. http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/visiting-china-pentagon-officers-step-up-dialogue/?ref=world
In a flurry of travel by top Pentagon officers, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief of staff, just returned from China – the first visit there by the Air Force’s top officer in 15 years.
Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, recently hosted his Chinese counterpart here; the Chinese admiral is expected to return in a few weeks to attend a Navy conference, a remarkable second visit within one year.
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in China earlier this year, and Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s top officer, has a trip to China on his calendar in the coming weeks.