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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 00:26 GMT 01:26 UK
Rio police purged
shanty town
Rio police have been accused of shooting people in this Shanty town
By Stephen Cviic in Brazil

The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Anthony Garotinho, has suspended more than 350 policemen as part of attempts to reform a force accused of widespread corruption.

The policemen will lose most of their salaries while their alleged crimes are investigated.


Some say they will appeal against the decision in the courts.

Over the years the Rio police force has had a terrible reputation.

Policemen have been accused of everything from drug trafficking to murder.

Red-handed

Among the officers suspended is a detective who was caught red-handed in a shanty town last week as he tried to extort $5,000 from a shopkeeper.

There are also a number of officers accused of kidnapping and car theft.

Most of them are already under investigation but under normal circumstances they would be allowed to remain on duty while lengthy disciplinary and legal processes ran their course.

Mr Garotinho's decision to suspend such a large number of policemen is a bold step.

As governor of one of Brazil's most important states, he came to power last year promising sweeping reform.

But four months ago he appeared to backtrack, sacking his most important advisor for his outspoken attacks on the police hierarchy.

Now reform is back on the agenda, though critics are waiting to see whether he pushes ahead with another ambitious plan.

He plans to bring to an end the damaging split between the state's civil and military police forces.

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See also:

24 Apr 00 | Americas
Brazil's police tactics under fire
21 Aug 99 | Americas
Brazilian police trial suspended
19 Jun 99 | Americas
New Brazilian police chief resigns
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