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Charges sought over gang rape of 16-year-old girl in Rio

Published 18/06/2016

Police investigator Cristiana Bento addresses a press conference in Rio de Janeiro (AP)
Police investigator Cristiana Bento addresses a press conference in Rio de Janeiro (AP)

Police in Rio de Janeiro are asking for charges to be filed against seven people over the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl which made global headlines after videos showing men posing with the unconscious victim were shared on social media.

The May 21 attack, which took place in an abandoned building in Rio's Morro do Borao slum, shocked Brazil and became a symbol of the Latin American nation's problem of violence against women.

The officer overseeing the investigation, Cristiana Bento, said evidence shows three men and a minor took part in the actual rape, not 33 people as the victim initially suggested.

Ms Bento said she believes the victim's statement was a "false memory", perhaps the result of her drugged state during the attack or the trauma suffered.

She said one video that circulated online may have confused the victim. In it, a suspect says: "This one here, she got pregnant by more than 30," gesturing toward the naked and unconscious teenager.

The videos and other material on social media and message sharing sites alerted police to what happened and helped them in their investigation and to identify suspects.

Along with four men authorities believe were directly involved in the attack, Ms Bento has asked for charges to be brought against two other people for allegedly helping circulate the videos online. She is also seeking charges against a gang leader in Morro do Borao for allegedly giving the attack his blessing.

Two suspects have been arrested and the rest remain at large.

Charges of raping a vulnerable victim carry a maximum 15-year sentence and making a pornographic video of a minor carries a maximum eight-year term. Distributing such videos carries a six-year maximum.

Ms Bento said she hopes anyone convicted receives a stiff sentence so an example is set.

The teenager is in a witness protection programme.

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