RIO DE JANEIRO – A Brazilian court allowed the release on probation of the military police lieutenant charged with having fired the shot that killed Spanish tourist Maria Esperanza Ruiz Jimenez in the Rio de Janeiro shantytown of Rocinha this Monday, officials announced.
The Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice ruled probation for Lieut. Davi dos Santos Ribeiro, 30, after a hearing in which the judge found that the accused “does not pose a threat” to eventual witnesses, and also has an “exemplary service record.”
The lieutenant was arrested Tuesday after giving his deposition in the early hours, and was jailed to await trial on charges of homicide. The Homicide Division of Rio de Janeiro police had requested preventive imprisonment for Dos Santos on grounds that he fired the fatal shot.
The Spanish tourist, 67, died this Monday after being shot in the neck while riding in a vehicle through Rocinha with her brother, her sister-in-law, a Brazilian tourist guide and the driver.
The original report by the military police said the vehicle carrying the Spanish tourists barreled through a police checkpoint set up in Largo do Boiadeiro and the driver refused to obey the order to stop – but all the occupants of the vehicle agree that no such order was given.
The lieutenant was with a soldier who fired a shot in the air at almost the same time and who has since been released, being charged only for the military misdemeanor of shooting a firearm.
The car in which Maria Esperanza was traveling, a Fiat Freemont, was hit by two bullets that struck the rear fender and the rear window.
According to the investigation, the shot that blasted through the rear window hit Maria Esperanza in the neck and continued its trajectory until it almost wounded the driver, an Italian who has been living in Rio de Janeiro for the last four years.
The Spaniards came to Rocinha on a travel package obtained from a tourist agency, but told authorities that no one had warned them about the risks of traveling in that conflicted shantytown.
“They understood it would be a peaceful place. They saw police officers on their beats and felt safe, but the truth is, it was just the opposite,” said Valeria Aragao of the Special Commission for Attention to Tourism (DEAT) of Rio de Janeiro.