Samba official hit in Rio shooting

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iol travel feb 12 Brazil Carnival~34

AP

A performer from the Sao Clemente samba school parades during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro - The vice chairman of one of Rio's top samba schools has survived an attempt on his life just weeks before Carnival, police said on Wednesday.

Marcello da Cunha Freire of the Salgueiro school, one of Rio's most famed samba parade groups, was shot late Tuesday by a man on a motorbike who fired six bullets at him.

Salgueiro chairwoman Regina Celi said in a post on a social media site that Freire “has undergone surgery and his life is not in danger.”

Freire was hit in the hand and the stomach as he left the offices of the rival Mangueira samba school.

The chairman of the Mangueira group, Chiquinho da Mangueira, is a centrist lawmaker; Freire is his deputy.

The Freire shooting is not the first attack on a member of the Salgueiro school.

In 2007, the group's then vice-chairman, Guaracy Paes Falcao, was killed in an early morning attack.

Another group member, Waldemir Paes Garcia, was fatally shot in 2004.

In all, 12 samba schools battle for the annual title of Carnival champions. This year's Carnival starts on February 28 and runs to March 4.

The mass parade is a costly affair generally financed by the town hall and local businesses.

But some schools obtain extra support from “bicheiros” - mafia-style racketeers involved in illegal gambling who once financed the event on their own account.

O Globo daily reported Wednesday that in January 2012 a bitter dispute between rival bicheiros linked to Garcia led to Celi receiving threats.

An anonymous phone caller tipped off police that a contract killer had been hired to kill her.

It was widely reported that the daughters of Garcia were out to reclaim the chairmanship of the Salgueiro school, which family members previously had held since the 1980s.

Sapa-AFP


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