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Brazil Cashiers Officers for Torture of Soldiers

August 29, 1990

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) _ The Brazilian air force cashiered two high-ranking officers and ordered an investigation into charges that soldiers were tortured, the government said Tuesday.

The commander of the Anapolis air force base, Col. Gildo Fernandes de Sousa, and his assistant, Lt. Col. Ubirajara Fernandes da Cunha, were removed from their posts, the Aeronautics Ministry said in a communique.

A military panel was appointed to investigate charges that four soldiers were submitted to electric shocks, beatings and kickings to confess the theft of two pistols.

Rober Soares da Silva, one of the soldiers involved, appeared on Brazilian television showing body bruises and cuts on his wrists. Da Silva claimed he was handcuffed and beaten to admit the theft.

The torture allegedly took place in the office of Lt. Col. da Cunha, according to Veja magazibne, Brazil’s biggest newsweekly, which broke the story in this week’s edition.

The guns thought to be stolen turned up later. According to Veja, another soldier had taken them to show to his father.

President Fernando Collor de Mello called for an ″immediate and rigorous″ investigation, presidential press spokesman Claudio Humberto Rosa e Silva said.

″In Brazil, torture never again,″ the spokesman said.

Torture was common during the 1964-1985 anti-Communist military administration, when the government persecuted known and suspected leftist opponents. A new constitution in 1988 banned torture and made it a crime without bail.

The Anapolis Air Force Base, 60 miles southwest of Brasilia, is responsible for the protecting the air space of central Brazil. It has 800 men and one the country’s largest combat squadrons.

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