Mob Sets Fire to City Hall in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO – A mob burned part of the city hall in the Brazilian city of Curralinho and hurled stones at the mayor’s office in a spontaneous protest against the decision by councilors to refuse to investigate accusations of corruption leveled against the mayor, police said.

The incidents occurred Friday night in Curralinho, an impoverished city of about 20,000 on Ilha de Marajo, an island located at the mouth of the Amazon River.

The violent demonstration was staged by some 500 people who had been on the city’s main square awaiting the decision made at a session in which the municipal council was voting on whether or not to open an investigation of Mayor Miguel Pedro Pureza Santa Maria, who stands accused of diverting public funds.

The councilors’ refusal to open an investigation into the matter – in a vote in which three of them rejected the investigation, two supported it and two others abstained – enraged the crowd in the square.

In addition to setting fire to furniture and part of the building in which the city government operates, the demonstrators threw stones at the mayor’s office and the offices of the municipal departments of education and health.

The mayor supposedly “spent” about 9.7 million reais (about $5.8 million) that he received from the federal government without stating where those funds were being funneled or presenting any receipts, the comptroller’s office said.

Police commanders sent reinforcements from other nearby cities to guarantee public order in Curralinho and announced they were trying to identify the people who led the attacks on the public facilities, adding that if they can be arrested they will be brought to trial for damaging public property.


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