Amnesty joins call for info on missing Rio slum resident

Amnesty International joined relatives and friends of Amarildo de Souza here Sunday in demanding information on the fate of a Rio slum resident missing since he was picked up by police nearly a month ago.

Wearing T-shirts proclaiming "Where is Amarildo?" and waving a "Who killed Amarildo" banner, scores of relatives, friends and supporters of the 42-year-old construction worker, took part in a symbolic "act of solidarity" in Rocinha shantytown.

De Souza has not been heard from since he was taken to a local police station on July 14.

"We can no longer accept that in Brazil a person can be taken from his home to a police station and disappear without a trace," said Atila Roque, executive director of Amnesty International's Brazilian branch.

"The practice of suspending human rights in slums, in underprivileged areas must end," he told AFP.

Amnesty also slammed what it called police attempts to "criminalize the victim" following suggestions that Amarildo and his family were involved in drug trafficking.

"These are all lies," said Elisabete Gomes, de Souza's wife. "Neither I nor Amarildo was involved in drug trafficking."

Roque said an Amnesty International team met with Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardoso and Human Rights Minister Maria do Rosario Nunes in Brasilia Thursday to request federal intervention in the case.