Rio: “Tropa Summons Pits Police Against Governor?”

The film invaded the streets, the TV networks, public debates, the newspapers, the magazines, and, worst of all, the mind of every Brazilian, fascinated with the “hero” who tortures and kills criminals and is a member of the finest urban combat unit in the world, the Special Operations Battalion (BOPE), a troop of “SOCIAL HEROES,” the pride of all of us military policemen and the State Military Police of Rio de Janeiro.To our mind, the soldier is a hero, especially in the impressionable minds of young people, so that destroying this reality is an antisocial crime, pardon my emphatic way of putting it. –Col. Paulo Paul, corregedor of the Rio state military police

O interrogatório é muito fácil de fazer
pega o favelado e dá porrada até doer
O interrogatório é muito fácil de acabar
pega o bandido e dá porrada até matar
[“The interrogation is easy to do, just grab the shantytown dweller and beat him until it hurts; the interrogration is easy to finish, just grab the bandit and beat him until he dies.”]
–BOPE training chant. Source: O Globo newspaper, 2003.

PM intima diretores de Tropa de Elite: The Rio state military police have opened an IPM — a military police inquest — into possible administrative conduct by policemen who cooperated with the production of Tropa de Elite, the fictionalized autobiography of special operations (BOPE) officers that opens nationwide today.

The Estado de S. Paulo metro daily reports.

The head of PM internal affairs, Colonel Paul had hinted he would investigate such matters in a recent blog post:

See also

RIO – O diretor do filme Tropa de Elite, José Padilha, e o ex-capitão do Batalhão de Operações Especiais (Bope) Rodrigo Pimentel, co-roteirista do longa-metragem e um dos autores do livro que o inspirou, foram intimados pela Polícia Militar a prestar depoimento como testemunha num Inquérito Policial Militar (IPM) aberto pela corregedoria da corporação. O inquérito foi aberto no mês passado para apurar a participação de soldados do Bope e o uso de recursos materiais da polícia, como armas e fardas, nas filmagens de Tropa.

The film’s director, José Padilha, and former BOPE captain Pimentel, one of the screenwriters on the film and co-author of the book that inspired it, were formally summoned by the state military police to give depositions as witnesses in a military police inquest (IPM) opened by the internal affairs division of the PM. The probe was opened last month to investigate the participation of BOPE troopers and the use of police resources, such as uniforms and weapons, in the making of the film.

Procurado pelo Estado, Padilha não quis comentar a intimação. Em nota, a Zazen, produtora do filme, informou que o diretor vai ignorar a intimação seguindo orientação que ouviu pessoalmente do governador do Rio, Sérgio Cabral Filho (PMDB). A assessoria do governador confirmou que ele orientou Padilha a não comparecer por considerar a intimação “uma inibição despropositada”.

Sought ought by the Estadão, Pimental did not wish to comment on the summons. In a press release, Zazen, the film’s producer, said the director will ignore the summons, following instructions he received personally from Governor Cabal. The governor’s press office confirmed that he advised Padilha to consider the summons “a senseless [act of intimidation.]”

Pimentel também teria faltado à primeira data marcada para o depoimento, que foi remarcado. Ele negou que a produção do filme tenha usado munição e armas do governo estadual e afirmou que se encontraria ontem com o comandante da PM, coronel Ubiratan Ângelo.

Pimentel also reportedly missed the first scheduled session, which was rescheduled. He denied that the film’s production used ammunition and weapons belonging to the state government and stated that he met often with PM state commandant, Colonel Ângelo.

A Polícia Militar e a Secretaria de Segurança do Rio não quiseram fornecer detalhes sobre a investigação interna, que foi aberta pelo corregedor, coronel Paulo Ricardo Paúl, a partir da denúncia de um oficial da própria PM. O setor de relações-públicas da PM informou que Paúl não daria entrevista sobre o assunto. O coronel Pinheiro Neto, comandante do Bope, também foi convocado a prestar declarações e já prestou depoimento. Procurado pelo Estado, ele não quis comentar a denúncia.

The military police and the Rio state secretary of public security (SSP) did not wish to furnish details of the internal investigation, which was opened by the corregedor, Colonel Paul, based on a complaint by a PM officer. The PM’s public-relations office reported that Paul would not give interviews on the matter. Colonel Pinheiro Neto, BOPE commander, was also summoned to testify and has already given a statement. Sought out for comment, he had no comment.

O governador divergiu da PM porque não vê cabimento numa investigação que questiona a transferência de informações do Bope para os produtores do filme ou especula sobre a utilização de material público. No entanto, sua assessoria não soube informar se ele intervirá pelo arquivamento do IPM.

The governor disagreed with the PM because he sees to point in an investigation questioning the transparency of information passed from BOPE to the film’s producers or speculates about the use of public property. However, his press office did not have an answer to the question of whether he would intervene to suspend the IPM.

An IPM is an internal military investigation that under the dictatorship (1964-1985) was used to try civilians charged by the military with violations of the national security law.

The parallel system of military justice in Brazil is not quite like our Uniform Code of Military Justice, which remains subject to the supervision of civilian courts in some form.

Just what form that supervision ought to take has come again recently in the Blackwater case, where civilian security contractors are accused of committing “atrocities” and lacking sufficient adult supervision by, and accountability to, the military commanders they ostensibly work for.

A reporter at DefenseTech noted in January of this year:

The addition of five little words to a massive US legal code that fills entire shelves at law libraries wouldn’t normally matter for much. But with this change, contractors’ ‘get out of jail free’ card may have been torn to shreds. Previously, contractors would only fall under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, better known as the court martial system, if Congress declared war. This is something that has not happened in over 65 years and out of sorts with the most likely operations in the 21st century. The result is that whenever our military officers came across episodes of suspected contractor crimes in missions like Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, or Afghanistan, they had no tools to resolve them. As long as Congress had not formally declared war, civilians — even those working for the US armed forces, carrying out military missions in a conflict zone — fell outside their jurisdiction. The military’s relationship with the contractor was, well, merely contractual. At most, the local officer in charge could request to the employing firm that the individual be demoted or fired. If he thought a felony occurred, the officer might be able to report them on to civilian authorities.

In Mexico, the federal human rights commission (CNDH), in reporting that human rights violations occurred in Oaxaca in 2006, presented a startling caveat to its report: It had not investigated offenses by agents of the state who were acting on own initiative, as private citizens:

… a large percentage of the events in question were caused by private citizens and, as such, are not part of the constitutional and legal mandate of this body.

In other words, cops moonlighting for paramilitary death squads on their own time were none of the CNDH’s business. Its mandate was to investigate official misconduct.

Astonishing, that. See

There are videos and photographs out there showing Oaxaca police changing into civilian clothes in their squad cars, donning ski masks and [state-issue?] bulletproof vests. They then reportedly went around, thus equipped, shooting at journalists.

You know, like Indymedia photojournalist Bradley Will.

Another New Yorker killed by terrorists.

I can’t tell you how much that kind of thing pisses me off.

Brazilian police apparently use similar public-private regulatory arbitrage to earn a few extra bucks on the side as well: Note the alleged conversion of BOPE troopers from off-duty to on-duty in the following incident, which as yet to be clarified.

The victim, who was wearing a union T-shirt, said he was approached and had a revolver pointed at his head and was beaten without knowing the reason. The case occurred some 500 meters from a picket line at one of the factory entrances. After arresting the man, the three BOPE troopers involved relaxed the conditions of arrest and suspended police custody of the man.

According to Col. Lima Castro, the policemen were off-duty and coming to Volta Redondo with a major who has security equipment inside the President Vargas factory. “The police were talking with the folks who are doing security when they were activated to help in a possible case of assault, as they tell it. They were accompanying a PM major who came to check on security equipment at the company,” said Lima Castro.


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