Tourist shot twice by mugger after Carnival kicks off

A 37-YEAR-OLD Dutch tourist was in hospital in Rio de Janeiro yesterday after being shot twice by a mugger who attacked him and his wife after the city’s fabled Carnival festivities got underway, police said.

“This is the worst crime we have had against a foreign tourist this year and we are worried about it,” said the head of the special tourist police unit handling the assault, Gilbert Stivanello.

The Dutchman, identified as Alexander Kors Johannes Vervoort, was shot in the stomach and arm during the assault late on Friday. He remained in intensive care, though was conscious.

The crime occurred as Vervoort and his wife, Ella Vervoort Ferwerda, were walking alone to the summit of a hill where Rio’s landmark giant Christ the Redeemer statue is located. The popular tourist spot attracts 1.8 million visitors a year.

The wife, also 37, was beaten about the head with a pistol but was not badly hurt.

The single mugger, described as a very young and small man, ran from the scene, leaving behind the camera, wallet, backpack and handbag he had been trying to steal.

Police were hunting him.

The police chief said the man also risked being murdered by the drug gang which runs the slum where he lives, near the Christ statue, for bringing officers into their lawless neighbourhood.

A dozen other tourists were at the reception of the tourist police office when this reporter visited. All were there to file reports that they, too, had been mugged, though none had been hurt.

“I was mugged twice the same night,” said one, Ed Grissell, 18.

Brazilian officials warn victims of assaults not to put up any resistance or speak back during assaults because many assailants are armed and have no hesitation in using their weapons.

Rio’s four-day Carnival kicked off on Saturday with celebrities in town to watch the main event with temperatures soaring to above 40ºC.

Iconic parades by the city’s top samba schools are rolled out over the weekend in a televised spectacular at a special “Sambodromo” stadium seating 90,000 people.

But the inclusion of a seven-year-old girl, Julia Lira joining the ranks of the sexy adult samba queens has sparked controversy.

The girl is the daughter of the head of the Viradouro school she is dancing for, and was set to be competing against the samba queens of the 11 other schools in the competitive parades – all of them near- naked women in little more than a g-string and body glitter who inject trademark sexiness into the show.

Viradouro has promised Julia would not be provocatively dressed, but even so, it had to see off a legal challenge by a children rights group. A Rio judge last week finally gave authorisation for her to take part.


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