Brazil minister: Militia probably behind councilwoman murder

Backdropped by an image of councilwoman Marielle Franco projected on a wall, people gather in protest at the site where Franco and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes were killed a month earlier, during a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 14, 2018. Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets to demand answers in the death of Franco, whose slaying is seen by her backers as a political assassination. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Candles light a sticker with a picture of councilwoman Marielle Franco, that reads in Portuguese "Marielle Lives," on the site where she and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes were killed a month earlier, during a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, April 14, 2018. Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets to demand answers in the death of Franco, whose slaying is seen by her backers as a political assassination. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

SAO PAULO — Brazil's public security minister says that investigators suspect that police-linked militias were responsible for killing a Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman who was a prominent social activist.

Marielle Franco and her driver were killed March 14. She had often criticized police brutality and was sharply critical of the decision to put the military in charge of Rio's security forces.

Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann told CBN radio on Monday that "the most probable hypothesis ... is that this crime is very probably the work of Rio de Janeiro's militias."

He was referring to armed groups of current and former police officers who vie with criminal gangs for control of Rio's poor communities and who have been accused of summary executions.

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