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Brazil Police ID Journalist’s Body

July 5, 2002

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ DNA tests have confirmed that bone fragments found in a cemetery belonged to a television reporter allegedly tortured and killed by a local drug lord, police said Friday.

Police had been searching for the body of TV Globo reporter Tim Lopes since early June when he disappeared in the Vila Cruzeiro slum on Rio’s poor north side while investigating allegations of drug trafficking and child prostitution.

Lab tests conducted at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro determined that the bone fragments belonged to Lopes, police said. The fragments were found in a grave along with the remains of four other bodies.

The National Newspaper Association issued a statement calling on the state to catch those responsible for Lopes’ death.

``The state has a debt with society and with the journalists that serve it, often risking their lives, as has been tragically demonstrated,″ the statement read. ``And this debt will only be paid by confronting organized crime with a dedication and an efficiency often promised and almost always rapidly forgotten.″

Lopes, a well-known investigative reporter in Brazil, is believed to have been tortured by gang members and then killed with a samurai sword by drug dealer Elias Pereira da Silva, also known as Mad Elias, police have said.

Police are searching for da Silva and three other men suspected in the murder.

Earlier this year, Lopes angered drug gangs when he used a micro-camera to show an open-air drug bazaar in another Rio slum. Many of Rio de Janeiro’s slums are terrorized by drug-gang related crime. Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

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