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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 20:44 GMT 21:44 UK
Brazil governor denies reprisals
Police search mourners during funeral of man allegedly killed by police
Police check mourners at a funeral of a man allegedly killed by police
The governor of Brazil's Sao Paulo state has denied its security forces are out of control, despite continuing clashes between gangs and police.

Claudio Lembo said police were working within the law, as a crackdown prompted by gang-related violence went on.

More than 150 people are known to have died in violence since Friday.

Meanwhile, a row has broken out over an interview which a journalist says he got with a gang leader - via mobile phone from a maximum security jail.

The Bandeirantes television channel says the man who spoke by phone to its reporter was Marcus Camacho, known as Marcola, the alleged leader of the gang known as the First Command of the Capital (PCC).

He told reporter Roberto Cabrini that the violence would never have happened had the state authorities respected the Brazilian constitution in their treatment of prisoners.

The PCC was ready and had the means to attack again, he said.

The Sao Paulo authorities have ordered experts to authenticate the recording, insisting that Marcola is in isolation without a phone.

But correspondents say gang leaders often get phones smuggled in to them with the help of corrupt guards.

'Wake-up call'

Sporadic shoot-outs continued on Wednesday night and police continued sweeps of the city on Thursday. Ten more people were reported dead.

The bourgeoisie will have to open their pockets to lift the misery so there are more jobs, more education
Claudio Lembo
State governor

In an interview for a Sao Paulo newspaper, the state governor, Mr Lembo described the violence as a "wake-up call", opening the eyes of middle-class Brazilians to the cancer of crime.

"We have a white minority that is very perverse," he said.

"The bourgeoisie will have to open their pockets to lift the misery so there are more jobs, more education."

The governor fiercely denied that any of his police squadrons were involved in the summary execution of suspects.

But there have been accusations of dozens of nameless bodies with shots to the backs of the head arriving in the city's morgues.

Both local and international human rights groups are concerned about the mounting death toll, several days after the original rioting was supposed to have ended.

Prison transfer

About 100 suspected gang members have died in the clashes, and more than 40 police and other officials.

The attacks were launched on Friday, apparently in retaliation for the transfer of 765 jailed PCC members to a maximum-security prison.

Over the weekend, inmates of more than 70 prisons revolted, taking some 200 hostages.

The PCC was formed in Sao Paulo by prisoners who survived one of Brazil's worst jail massacres in the early 1990s, when the police killed 111 inmates to put down a riot.

It is involved in drugs and arms trafficking, kidnappings, bank robberies, and prison breaks and rebellions, police say.


SEE ALSO:
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In pictures: Brazil violence
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Brazil's mighty prison gangs
14 May 06 |  Americas
More die in fresh Brazil violence
14 May 06 |  Americas
Latin America: Crisis behind bars
16 Nov 05 |  Americas


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