RIO DE JANEIRO – Investigators have identified nine suspects in the murder of an Italian tourist in a Rio de Janeiro slum, the head of the police homicide unit said Friday.
Roberto Bardella, 52, was gunned down Thursday after he and his cousin, 59-year-old Rino Polato, inadvertently drove their motorcycles into the Morro dos Prazeres “favela.”
“Their GPS got them lost in Morro dos Prazeres and when they were a few meters inside the favela, they were approached by four armed men who, when they noticed they had cameras on their helmets, shot Bardella,” homicide commander Fabio Cardoso told a press conference.
The assailants mistook the two Italian men for police, Cardoso said.
After killing Bardella, the gunmen held Polato for two hours while waiting for their criminal boss to arrive, the senior detective said.
Once they were satisfied that the Italians were tourists, the gunmen released Polato, who was able to help police identify the crime boss and eight of his subordinates, Cardoso said.
“The boss was not at the scene of the murder, but his order was to shoot any suspicious person who came to Morro dos Prazeres, any possible enemy who might put his criminal activities at risk,” Cardoso said.
“We are going to release the photographs and complete names of the criminals, to find and detain them,” the chief detective said.
Bardella and Polato were in Brazil as part of a motorcycle tour of South America that had previously taken them to Paraguay and Argentina.