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01/03/2011 // INFO Leave a comment

Driver in Porto Alegre incident to be arrested for attempted murder

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Five days after the events in Porto Alegre, cycling communities around the world are still in shock at what happened in the city on Friday night when a driver ploughed through cyclists participating in a critical mass event. Today will see a protest march in Porto Alegre attended by many who were involved in the incident as well as many like-minded citizens of the city.

Protesters, who will be dressed in white, will march tonight for justice, humanity and respect in reaction to the incident. A protest march was also held by cyclists yesterday in São Paulo despite heavy rain.

Had no choice, says driver

The latest on the driver in the incident, Ricardo Neis, is that he has handed himself in finally. He has since been released pending the investigation of the police and legal authorities in Porto Alegre.

Incredibly, Mr Neis was allowed to speak to reporters after leaving the police station following four hours of questioning. He claimed he would have been lynched by cyclists at the back of the critical mass ride and had no choice but to do what he did. He said he was upset about what he did but he likened the provocation from the cyclists as to that of an armed militia.

There are increasing calls for the Ministério Público, the Brazilian equivalent to the UK’s crown prosecution service, to get involved in the case and put Mr Neis up on a charge for attempted murder straight away.  The police investigation is expected to take a month before charges are filed.

Critical mass to continue

Meanwhile, organisers of the critical mass in Porte Alegre said it would continue to hold a critical mass on the last Friday of the month as is traditional worldwide. Numbers for this month’s event in March are expected to be swelled by cyclists from other Brazilian cities attending.

In the meantime, the 150 or so cyclists involved in the incident are being asked to make statements to the police and organisers about what happened last Friday.

Update

Events in Brazil are predictably fast moving on this incident. This evening brought the news that Mr Neis had admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital.  The hospitalisation came prior to what is expected to be the arrest Mr Neis on an attempted murder charge on Wednesday. That arrest will lead to Mr Neis being remanded in custody until investigations are fully complete and a formal charge being made.

The police had originally stated it was treating the incident of Mr Neis driving into the cyclists as not an intentional act (criminal negligence), but the police questioning of Mr Neis on Monday had revealed that he was fully aware of the consequences of his act.

Photo used courtesy of Ramiro Furquim

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