Angry mourners demand 'justice' over Brazil military shooting

©Agence France-Presse

A relative reacts during the funeral of Brazilian musician Evaldo dos Santos Rosa, who was killed by an army unit when it shot at his car by mistake

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Anguish mixed with anger at the funeral Wednesday of a Brazilian musician shot dead by soldiers in Rio de Janeiro, with mourners blaming far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and the military. 

Around 200 family and friends of Evaldo dos Santos Rosa chanted "justice" over and over as his coffin was placed in a crypt not far from where soldiers killed him in a hail of bullets on Sunday as he drove his family to a baby shower in the working-class district of Guadalupe in Rio's north. 

Five people were in the white sedan when soldiers -- who the army said had been on the lookout for a car-load of criminals during a regular patrol of the military-controlled area -- riddled the vehicle with 80 bullets, local media reported. 

Miraculously, dos Santos's wife, seven-year-old son and a family friend escaped unhurt, but his father-in-law and a bystander were wounded. 

That soldiers involved in the shooting were arrested within hours did little to quell the anger among mourners as they stood in the cemetery sweating in suffocating heat and humidity a day after a fierce rainstorm wreaked havoc in the city.

Some yelled "it's your fault, Bolsonaro", while others accused the former paratrooper of giving Brazil's security forces tacit permission to commit violence. 

"The violence wasn't like this before," Patricia Lima, a cousin of dos Santos, told AFP. 

"This is authorized violence." 

Ciney Silva, a member of the Remelexo da Cor band founded by dos Santos, played samba songs on his cavaquinho, a small guitar, during the funeral as fellow mourners clapped and sang. 

"He was totally murdered," Silva told AFP.

"What makes me so angry is the way it happened."  

'Just numbers'

The killing of dos Santos came days after a teenager on a motorbike was shot dead by soldiers in Rio de Janeiro after failing to obey an order to stop, local media reported. 

Bolsonaro was swept to power on January 1 on a promise to take a hard line against criminals -- a sentiment echoed by the newly elected Rio state governor Wilson Witzel.

In Witzel's first two months in office, 305 people were killed by police, according to government statistics --  one such death every four and a half hours.

That is a 17.6 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018, and a record high for the 16 years that statistics on police-involved killings have been kept.

Witzel recently told local media that snipers had been deployed in the city. 

Nine soldiers have been placed under preventative detention over the shooting of dos Santos, which the military said Wednesday was a "sad incident." 

A lawyer for dos Santos's family called for the case to be handled by police.

"We are looking for a transparent inquiry," he told reporters. 

After the funeral, dozens of mourners protested outside the military barracks where the soldiers were based. 

As army personnel looked on, mourners yelled "murder" and "justice" and held up Brazilian flags splattered with red paint.

"We are just numbers," said Lima.

"He left behind a seven-year-old son who was his life... a very nice family and all of this for nothing."