Photograph of police in the area where three doctors were murdered in Barra Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 05 October 2023. EFE/ Antonio Lacerda

Killing of three doctors on Rio de Janeiro beach shakes Brazilian politics

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct. 5 (EFE) – The shooting of three doctors early Thursday morning in Rio de Janeiro, among them the brother of a leftist federal deputy, has shaken Brazilian politics and raised suspicions about the motivation of this “barbaric” crime in a city accustomed to violence.

The attack took place at a beach bar on the edge of Barra Tijuca, an affluent area in the western zone of Rio, and has provoked widespread condemnation from political leaders of all ideological stripes, including President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

One of the victims was Diego Ralf Bomfim, 35, brother of federal deputy Sâmia Bomfim and brother-in-law of Glauber Braga, also a deputy in the lower house of Congress, both of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL, left).

The other victims were Marcos de Andrade, director of the Institute of Orthopedics and Traumatology at the University Hospital of São Paulo, and Perseu Ribeiro Almeida, an orthopedist and traumatologist specializing in foot and ankle surgery.

In addition, a fourth doctor was injured and remains hospitalized.

The doctors were all from São Paulo and had traveled to Rio de Janeiro to attend an international orthopedic congress.

Twenty shots and many questions

According to CCTV footage, the foursome were sharing a table at a beach stand in front of the hotel where they were staying when a group of gunmen got out of a white vehicle and fired at least 20 shots towards them.

The gunmen then got back into the car and left the scene.

The police have launched an investigation to determine the identity of the perpetrators and the motives behind this triple murder.

Since the suspects opened fire and left the area without taking anything, the main line of investigation is the hypothesis of an “execution.”

The Minister of Justice, Flávio Dino, has also hinted at the possibility of a politically motivated crime.

“Given the hypothesis of a link to the actions of two federal deputies, I have ordered the Federal Police to follow the investigation into the execution of the doctors in Rio,” he announced on his social networks.

In another unusual move, Dino sent the number two of the Ministry of Justice, Ricardo Cappelli, to Rio to discuss the case with the leadership of the Federal Police and the state government.

Rio de Janeiro has historically suffered from high rates of violence due to conflicts between drug traffickers and paramilitary groups and was the scene of a politically motivated murder in March 2018, when city councilwoman Marielle Franco was gunned down along with her driver.

The identity of the instigators of Franco’s death is still not known to this day.

Unanimous condemnation from the political world

Politicians from all sectors condemned what they called a “barbaric” crime and filled social networks with messages of condolence for federal deputy Sâmia Bomfim and her partner, Glauber Braga.

President Lula, who is recovering from hip surgery, said he “received with great sadness and indignation the news of the execution.”

And Racial Equality Minister Anielle Franco, sister of the late Marielle, also expressed solidarity with the two congressmen: “I know these family’s pain.”

Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, son of former ultra-rightist president Jair Bolsonaro, also joined the sentiment, describing the murders as “cowardly”. EFE