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Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page A24

Brazil Police Arrest Two In Rio Shooting Spree

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian authorities arrested two military police officers Saturday accused of taking part in a killing spree that left at least 30 dead on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro on Thursday night.

The massacre, thought to be a response to a crackdown on corrupt police officers the same day, was the worst in more than a decade in the increasingly violent seaside city.

Police arrested and jailed the two men, identified as Jose Felipe and Fabiano Lopes, based on witnesses' descriptions. The two denied taking part in the slayings.

Rio state authorities contend outlaw police likely carried out the massacre in reprisal for the arrests of eight officers suspected of a separate double murder. In that case, police were filmed throwing the severed head of one victim over the wall of a police station.

State Gov. Rosinha Matheus also offered a $1,900 reward for information leading to the capture of the gunmen.

"We want this case to be rigorously investigated because it can't go unpunished," Matheus said on her weekly radio program. "As a mother, I'm shocked. Only monsters are capable of that."


CARACAS, Venezuela -- President Hugo Chavez says he wants to "turn the page" on past hostility and improve ties with Washington, including guaranteeing long-term oil supplies, a U.S. senator said.

"He clearly articulated a desire for better relations with the United States," Sen. Norm Coleman, (R-Minn.), told foreign reporters after meeting with the Venezuelan leader in Caracas, the capital.

Coleman, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, said he detected a recent easing in the rhetoric between the two governments. Venezuela is a leading oil supplier to the United States, which has been affected by a recent spike in world oil prices.

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador -- Former president Abdala Bucaram returned to Ecuador, vowing to confront political enemies who accused him of corruption and forced him to flee the country eight years ago.

His reentry into Ecuador's unstable political scene was made possible Thursday when the Andean country's Supreme Court dismissed charges that Bucaram, who calls himself "El Loco" -- the crazy one -- misused funds during his presidency.

Bucaram was forced into exile in Panama in early 1997 when Congress dismissed him for "mental incompetence" after only a few months in office.


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