thetimes.co.uk/Thieves ambush Rio’s archbishop after a mass and steal his crucifix

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SHAFAQNA – Armed thieves ambushed Rio’s archbishop as he was leaving a mass, apologised when they realised who they had stopped, but went on to steal his crucifix, ring and mobile phone.
Dom Orani Tempesta, who was made an archishop by Pope Benedict in 2009 and appointed as a cardinal this year by Pope Francis, was leaving his residence near Santa Teresa, a bohemian area popular with tourists on a hilltop overlooking Rio, when the attackers blocked his car and held him up at gunpoint.
“They recognised the cardinal, apologised, but went ahead with the robbery anyway,” said Adionel Carlos da Cunha, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
The cardinal was heading to a radio station for a debate when the robbery happened. He was being accompanied by a seminary student and a photographer. The thieves took the photographer’s cameras and even stole the student’s cassock. They later dumped all the items except for the cameras, and police found the ring and the crucifix on a road not far from the scene of the robbery.
The archbishop continued with his journey and participated in the radio debate while his companions reported the incident to the police. No one was hurt in the robbery.
Crime has risen in Rio in the past year after several years of decline, attributed to police moving into the gang-controlled slums that dot the city, in the run-up to the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
Some analysts believe the rise in petty street crime is due in part to the police disrupting the economic activities of established gangs, forcing members to seek other criminal pursuits such as muggings and carjackings.
The city’s police force has been heavily criticised recently for a number of extra-judicial killings, including the murder of a 14-year-old boy by two officers who suspected him of being a thief.
The officers were arrested after their own dashboard camera recorded them casually planning the killing and laughing about it.
This week, federal prosecutors arrested 22 officers, including the third-in-command of the city’s military police, on charges of running an extortion racket involving shopkeepers and bus and taxi companies.
Prosecutors investigating the case said that the 14th Battalion of the city police “had virtually been transformed into a limited company where the ‘profits’ were deposited with ‘the administration’ or handed over to the senior officers who abused their power over their subordinates and over battalion strategy and activity.”

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