Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Car runs down bicycling demonstrators in Brazil

Mon Feb 28, 2011 Associated Press

SAO PAULO – A motorist sped his car through a pack of more than 100
cycling activists in southern Brazil, sending bikes and screaming riders
flying through the air and landing hard on the asphalt in a scene captured
on amateur video and posted online.

At least 40 cyclists were injured, with most suffering cuts and broken
bones, but nobody was killed, authorities said.

Police said the suspect, whose name they did not release, fled the scene
of the incident Friday evening in Porto Alegre. He was brought in for
questioning Monday after authorities found his abandoned car over the

The man claimed riders surrounded his vehicle and began beating on it,
causing him to panic and fear for his life, police said.

But the lead investigator in the case called that version of events
"fanciful," without giving other details.

Inspector Gilberto Montenegro told Globo TV network's G1 website that the
man could face charges of attempted homicide. Under Brazilian law,
prosecutors can decide whether to bring charges only after police close
their investigation, which may take 30 days. The man is currently free.

Montenegro also said the number of people hit and injured rose to 40.
Previously, police said 16 people were hurt.

Cyclists in the Critical Mass ride told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper
that no riders were threatening the motorist.

"He drove behind us for two blocks, and people were trying to stay calm.
Then in the third block he ... floored it on top of everyone," Marcelo
Guidoux Kalil told Folha. "It was a scene of war, with twisted bicycles
and people bleeding on the ground."

In the video, thuds and sharp sounds of metal on metal are heard as the
car accelerates directly through the pack of cyclists.

Scores of riders and eyewitnesses screamed and asked bystanders to call
police and ambulances as they began administering first aid to the

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