Brazil arrests 18 over alleged land rights killing | News | DW | 20.07.2012
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Brazil arrests 18 over alleged land rights killing

Brazilian police have arrested 18 people over the murder of an indigenous leader who was heading a bid to recover ancestral tribal land.

Six landowners were believed to be among those arrested in connection with the high-profile murder of Guarani chief Nisio Gomes on Thursday.

A police chief from the Mato Grosso do Sul state, who declined to be named, told the AP news agency that a lawyer, a public servant and 10 men from a security company were also among those arrested.

Authorities at the time of the killing said that 42 heavily armed and hooded men attacked the Kaiowa Guarani community of Amambai, not far from the border with Paraguay.

As well as shooting the 59-year-old Gomes - and taking his body away in a pickup truck to hide - the assailants were reported to have kidnapped a child and two youths. Gomes had been leading a bid to reclaim land from ranchers.

The news was welcomed by the British-based rights group Survival International, which campaigns on behalf of indigenous people across the world, as "a positive step."

"For years, powerful landowners have hired hit-men to kill those that challenge them. The culture of impunity must end if this situation is to change," said Survival director Stephen Corry in a statement on the group's website.

Guarani Indians have been trying to recover a small portion of their original territories ranchers, as well as soya and sugar cane plantation owners.

rc/ipj (AP, AFP)

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