Brazilian police have made three arrests after the deadly beating of a Congolese refugee, captured on security camera images at a beachside kiosk in Rio de Janeiro, set off outraged calls for justice and planned protests in major cities.
Moise Kabagambe, 24, was beaten to the ground with sticks by three men last week, the images released by police on Tuesday showed he had been tied. Investigators are checking witness accounts that Kabagambe was murdered after demanding back pay for two days serving drinks at the kiosk.
Police arrested three suspects on Tuesday and are seeking a fourth. Police chief Henrique Damasceno said the kiosk owner helped identify the assailants by providing the security video and did not take part in the beating.
Kabagambe arrived in Brazil ten years ago as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo and was studying architecture, according to his family, which has encouraged demonstrations to demand justice. “We want justice,” Kabagambe’s mother Ivana told reporters. “He grew up here in Brazil. I can’t believe this happened.”
The Congolese community and Black rights groups have called for a protest on Saturday by the kiosk on Barra de Tijuca beach in south Rio, along with a simultaneous protest in Sao Paulo.
Human Rights Watch said Kabagambe’s violent murder on Jan. 24 “deserves the most absolute repudiation by Brazilian society” as it comes in a context of increased violence against Black people in Brazil. The embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo called for a thorough investigation and said it was the fifth murder of a Congolese immigrant in Brazil since 2019.
Brazil’s foreign ministry joined the outpouring of sympathy. The ministry, known as Itamaraty, said in a note, “Itamaraty expresses its indignation over the brutal murder and hopes those responsible are brought to justice as soon as possible.”
Brazil has received 900 Congolese refugees since 2016 and most live in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, according to the Justice Ministry, which is responsible for immigration.