A journalist who was investigating horrific sex crimes committed by drug traffickers against young girls in a slum was brutally tortured and slaughtered by the gang following a mock trial for his alleged "crimes" against them.
Tim Lopes, an investigative journalist from Brazil, had his hands, arms, and legs sliced off while he was still alive, using what police later determined was a samurai or ninja-style sword after he was caught looking into traffickers who were forcing young and poor girls into prostitution.
He was kidnapped and taken deep in the jungle, where the traffickers held a sick mock trial for Tim’s alleged “crimes” against them.
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After the trial, came the sentence.
Once his body was mutilated, he was then put in what was sickly called a “micro-ondas”, or microwave oven, which saw the severely injured journalist being placed in several rubber tires, covered in diesel fuel, and set on fire.
He began investigating the gang after he was tipped off by residents of the Vila Cruzeiro slum, which lies in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, who told him that young girls in the area who resisted the traffickers faced severe consequences.
Many were being forced to have sex in public at "baile funk" events, music festivals that allowed people in poor slums across Brazil to blow off some steam.
Rio’s police force did nothing to help the slum’s residents, and as a result they were forced to turn to people like Tim, who died 21 years ago to the day at the age of 51.
As Nassif Elias Sobrinho, president of the Rio journalist union, put it: "Tim Lopes was called because there was no one to hear their problems. The community told the police many times and nothing was done."
He was caught after a young boy working as a lookout for the gang caught him filming them with a hidden camera, being given away by a small light coming from his pocket.
After he was confronted and quickly beaten up by gang members, he was shot in his legs and thrown into the boot of a car before being taken away.
The traffickers drove the beat up Fiat Palio around three miles down a winding dirt track before tossing him out, torturing him, then killing him, before burying him in an unmarked grave.
It was months before the head of the gang, Elias Maluco, was caught, following a hugely publicised manhunt that ended with him being given a 28-and-a-half year sentence for the brutal murder.
The others involved in the murder were either caught and sentenced, or killed by police.
Following his death, a street and school in Rio were named after the slain journalist.
His death also prompted a deep change in crime reporting in Brazil.
As one of his former colleagues put it: "The death of Tim Lopes opened our eyes to a new reality.
"We're tired of giving the criminals the front page. We're tired of interviewing the criminal on TV. We're tired of empowering the criminal in order to get an exclusive.”
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