Rio police arrested two men on Monday and hunted four others in the alleged gang rape of an unconscious teenage girl that came to light in an online video that shocked Brazil.
Globo television showed footage of heavily armed police in black uniforms outside a house in a favela in the west of Rio de Janeiro, which will host the Olympics in August.
They were searching for four of the more than 30 men allegedly involved in the sex assault on the 16-year-old girl, police told a press conference.
A fifth man, who allegedly shot the rape video in which the girl is shown naked and seemingly unconscious on a bed, turned himself in, Brazilian news reports said.
A promising 20-year-old football player said to be the alleged victim’s boyfriend was also arrested, Globo news reported.
Among those still on the wanted list was a man who grinned in a selfie taken next to the naked girl and an alleged member of the drug trafficking gangs that control swaths of Rio’s poor and often lawless areas known as favelas.
Raids have been carried out in a series of favelas since the video went online Wednesday.
The alleged incident took place May 21 and it was only five days later that the girl went to the authorities, apparently because of fear of reprisals, complicating the investigation.
However, her story and the video, in which a man is heard saying that the girl has been “impregnated” by more than 30 men, shocked a city already battered by mounting crime and economic disarray less than three months ahead of the Olympics.
Rio de Janeiro state’s acting governor Francisco Dornelles labeled gang rape “the most heinous of crimes.”
“If it was up to me it would be punished with the death penalty,” he said.
Brazil does not have the death penalty but Dornelles called for “the most violent possible” punishment.
Brazil’s suspended president Dilma Rousseff, who faces an impeachment trial, and her replacement Michel Temer, also added their condemnation.
- ‘Rape proven’ -
Senior police officials told a press conference that there was no medical evidence to support the allegations, but that this was partly due to the time that passed before the girl went for help.
Another reason was that if the victim was unconscious, she would not have struggled.
The lead investigator, Cristina Bento, said that in any case the girl’s testimony and the video already amounted to enough evidence to press charges.
“Rape is proven. What I want to prove now is the extent of the rape. Who was involved? Were there five, 10 or 30?”
The head of the civil police force, Fernando Veloso, said there is no “evidence of violence,” but that “the video, in addition to the testimony of the victim, proves sexual abuse.”
The firm response from officials pushed back against suggestions in the media and on social networks that the victim was not telling the truth.
Police changed the lead investigator Sunday at the request of the girl’s lawyer, Eloisa Samy.
The girl, who has been moved by police to an undisclosed location, told Globo television that the investigator, Alessandro Thiers, had made her uncomfortable.
“He blamed me,” she said.
“I think this is why many women don’t come forward. They were trying to incriminate me, as if I were to blame for being raped.”
Veloso himself told Globo television earlier that despite the apparent presence of blood in the video, “there are no traces of blood,” and he criticised “the point of view that is being formed by people who have nothing to do with the video.”