Third arrest in brutal Rio rape case
Concern over violence ahead of World Cup
Last Saturday’s brutal assault has refocused attention on the safety of visitors to Rio de Janeiro as the city gears up to receive the millions of foreigners expected to visit for the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day this July, football’s World Cup final next year and the summer Olympics in 2016.
Police in Rio de Janeiro have arrested a third man in connection with the brutal gang rape of a foreign student in the city last Saturday.
The US woman and a French companion were taking an illegal van service from the Copacabana beachside neighbourhood towards the centre when the driver and two other men in the van forced out other passengers after robbing them.
The men then drove off with the two foreigners. The 21-year-old woman was raped repeatedly as the men took turns driving the van. Her male travelling companion was tied up and beaten during her ordeal.
The two were held for six hours as the three attackers used their credit cards to withdraw money and buy drinks in petrol stations. Images recorded at the stations helped to identify the three men.
At one stage the attackers returned to the woman’s apartment in Copacabana and threatened to kill her companion if she did not return with another credit card. “She didn’t even think of asking for help because she was in a state of shock and feared for the life of her boyfriend,” said Alexandre Braga of Rio’s tourist police.
After the men’s arrest a Brazilian woman identified them as the same gang who had raped her a week previously.
The brutal assault has refocused attention on the safety of visitors to Brazil’s premier tourist destination just as the city gears up to receive the millions of foreigners expected to visit when it hosts the Catholic church’s World Youth Day this July, football’s World Cup final next year and the summer Olympics in 2016.
Authorities have improved security. In the decade to 2010, the homicide rate fell by more than half as its economy grew and police retook control of shantytowns from armed drug gangs. Rio’s homicide rate is still 2½ times higher than what the World Health Organisation considers “epidemic” levels.