World

Brazilian police arrest 2 men in alleged gang rape in Rio

Two suspects have been arrested in the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl by more than 30 men in Rio de Janeiro, a case that has shocked the country.

4 other suspects have been identified by authorities but remain on the run

Rai de Souza, left, 22, suspected of being involved in the gang rape of a teenage girl, turned himself into police in Rio de Janeiro on Monday. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

Two suspects have been arrested in the alleged gang rape of a 16-year-old girl by more than 30 men in Rio de Janeiro, which has shocked the nation.

Rai de Souza, 22, turned himself in at the Police Precinct for the Protection of Children and Adolescents, and professional soccer player Lucas Perdomo Duarte was arrested in a restaurant in downtown Rio.

Four others, one of them the head of the ruling drug trafficking gang in the slum where the incident happened, were identified as suspects but were said to be on the run.

The case has caused outrage throughout Brazil as a video of the attack was posted on Twitter by an alleged perpetrator, and was widely shared, with many comments blaming the victim.

The video showed the girl in a room with three men, being touched in ways that constitute rape under Brazilian law, Rio police Chief Fernando Veloso told reporters on Monday.

The men in the video speak of another gang rape shortly before involving over 30 men, about which Veloso said the police were chasing further evidence.

Civil Police Chief Fernando Veloso, left, and Police Chief for crimes against minors Cristiana Honorato Bento told a press conference there is proof of the alleged rape in the video, but they need to determine the extent of it and how many people were involved. (Sergio Moraes/Reuters)

In the clip, the semi-conscious naked girl is seen on a bed as men hurl insults and boast that 30 people had raped her. At one point, a man is seen touching her genitals.

"I am convinced there was a rape, it's right there in the video, when the guy touched the girl," lead investigator Cristiana Honorato Bento said in a news conference.

"The rape is proven," Bento said. "What I want to do now is verify the extent of this rape and how many people took part."

Her remark was the first time police have definitively stated the girl, who has not been identified, was raped. Previously, they had said there were all indications that a rape had occurred but that they needed more proof.

One of the girl's lawyers asked that a lead investigator on the case, Alessandro Thiers (left), be removed because he made the alleged victim feel uncomfortable during questioning. That request was granted late Sunday. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

Authorities said a medical exam of the victim was only performed five days after the alleged attack, hindering their ability to gather physical evidence that would lead to additional suspects and arrests.

The case has sparked a debate over sexism and violence in Brazil and raised security concerns ahead of Rio's hosting of the Summer Olympics in August. Crime has fallen in recent years in Rio, though there has been a recent increase in homicides.

The video has prompted widespread outrage and protests in several cities that continued Monday.

Some people, however, have focused their blame on the girl, with Bento noting that "she is being victimized by people judging her because she may have dressed in a certain way."

Protesters chanted "there was no rape" and held placards stating the same thing during a small demonstration at a bus stop near the western Rio slum where the girl said the gang rape occurred.

Police scattered the crowd with pepper spray.

Brazilian police say they are hunting for more than 30 men suspected of participating in the gang rape of a 16-year-old over the weekend 4:23

The O Globo newspaper posted on its website an audio sent via the Whatsapp messaging service in which an alleged member of the drug gang that controls the slum is heard ordering residents to attend the demonstration.

Bento, the investigator, said she is certain drug gang members were involved in raping the girl. She noted that police have an arrest warrant for Sergio Silva, the local head of the Red Command gang in the slum.

The girl at the center of the case is now under state protection and she and her family intend to leave Rio, officials said.

Brazil's Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes, visiting Rio for a meeting about Olympic security, said he would put the girl and her family in the federal government's witness protection program, should they want it.