<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Who Shot Luciana?

Controversy takes the case of wounded university student in a new direction


By Helena Klang
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

May 19, 2003

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL: MAY 19, 2003: On May 5th, nursing student Luciana Gonçalves Novais, 19, was shot on the campus of her university, Estácio de Sá, in Rio de Janeiro.

Three days prior, on May 2nd, an alleged drug trafficker on nearby Turano Hill, Adriano Miano, also known as Sapinho or “Little Toad,” was slain during a Military Police action. Fábio Santos da Silva, 25, and Leandro dos Santos Ventura, 16, were disappeared. In reprisal for the police action, bandits reportedly telephoned the university telling it to close its doors. The institution did not cede to the pressure and this was the result: Luciana may be a paraplegic.

The crime seemed very obvious. Traffickers from Turano Hill, near Estácio de Sá, had shot the student. Just the same, something unexpected occurred. A stray bullet did not hit Luciana: On that Monday there had not been any shootout between bandits and police. The student was the target.

The daily newspaper, O DIA, reported that the target was not Luciana, but, rather, the leader of the academic student directory at Estácio who, according to the newspaper, was involved with drugs. At no moment were the authors of the crime questioned. The police and public opinion blamed the narco-traffickers. An audiotape of a telephone conversation broadcast by the National Journal TV news program, of the Globo network, two days later, revealed that traffickers from Turano had planned the attack on Estácio a long time ago. The audiotapes were made by the Department of Investigations on Narcotics (DENARC, in its Portuguese acronym) but the chief of the Civil Police, Álvaro Lins, said he didn’t know about the existence of any such tapes.

The police continued working with the theory that the shot had come from the slums. However, the images recorded by the closed circuit TV of the university, revealed by the O Globo newspaper, and the ballistic exam noted that the distance between the hillside favela slum and the point where Luciana had been standing was very long; 600 meters. Thus, the bullet came from inside the university. The investigation also revealed that the bullet used was from a 40 caliber revolver of the kind used exclusively by police and judicial authorities, and this, also, reinforced the version of events that the shot did not come from Turano Hill.

In the unfolding of this story, it was discovered that university closed circuit videotapes delivered to the police had been tampered with. They lacked the exact images at the moment of the crime. It was perceived that the tapes had been edited. The attention turned to the insurance company responsible for the closed circuit TV system, Tele-Segurança. The man who delivered those images to the company and later to the police was Marcos Ripper, police inspector of the 16th Police Precinct in Tijuca.

Marcos Ripper owns a 40 caliber revolver. He declared to the police that he did not work for Estácio de Sá. Days after his interrogation, he returned to his work of contract services for the university. Like many police officers, he augments his monthly salary working for private security companies. One factor became more curious in the situation with the police: Marcos Ripper is the brother-in-law of Artur da Távola, the Chancellor of Estácio de Sá.

On the day of the crime, an investigator from the Carlos Éboli Criminology Institute (ICCE, in its Portuguese initials) asked for copies of the videotapes and Carlos Ferreira, a Tele-Segurança official, delivered a CD to a guard at Vigban, a company that insures the property of the campus. Marcos Ripper had access to the CD and only delivered it to the police five days later. The tampered images were now recovered, with everything, and the investigators are trying to enhance the images to try and prove who fired the shot.

On Saturday, May 17, the inspector went to the Precinct after declarations by Anthony Garotinho to last Friday’s edition of the daily O Globo, as public safety secretary of the state of Rio de Janeiro, saying that he was involved in the case. Marcos Ripper says that he was not at Estácio at the moment the shot was fired and, crying, declared him self to be innocent.

Two weeks after Luciana was wounded, the case, that beforehand was so obvious according to the media and the police, still has not been solved. It seemed natural to blame narco-traffickers for what occurred. Society is already conditioned for that response. But, there’s a possibility that a police officer shot somebody with his work pistol, and a cover-up by public authorities and society in general.

According to doctors, Luciana Novaes, who has had three operations, was hit in the third vertebrae. Her state of health is stable, but she continues breathing with the help of machines. Thus, it is predicted that the student will be quadraplegic.

Helena Klang is a Narco News Authentic Journalism Scholar

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