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Eight Brazilians Sentenced for Planning Terrorist Attack at Rio Olympics

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Security guards watch the Women's marathon at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics. (Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil)

A judge in Brazil has sentenced eight men for plotting attacks during the build-up to last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and for promoting the Islamic State (IS) militant group online.

The eight men, all Brazilian nationals, were among a group of 10 who Federal officers apprehended in July.

In September, prosecutors were found to have had gathered “sufficient evidence to proceed to trial” against them.

Federal Judge Marcos Josegrei da Silva has now sentenced all of the men to jail terms.

The ringleader, Leonid El Kadre de Melo, was given the harshest penalty of 15 years and 10 months.

Zaine el Kadri, El Kadre de Melo’s mother and lawyer, said her son was on hunger strike to protest unjust incarceration.

Alisson Luan de Oliveira is one of the six men jailed for six years along with Oziris Moris Azevedo, Levi Ribeiro de Jesus, Israel Pedra Mesquita, Hortencio Yoshitake and Luis Gustavo de Oliveira.

Fernando Pinheiro Cabral has been sentenced to five years in prison.

All the men claim they will appeal the verdicts.

Judge Silva said the group had been sharing extremist material online and through messaging apps, swearing allegiance to IS.

He wrote in his ruling that El Kadre de Melo was “without a shadow of a doubt the person who took over the role of leader among the accused.”

A covert operation was carried out by the police’s anti-terrorism division to thwart what was then seen as the biggest threat to the security of Rio 2016, just 15 days before the Opening Ceremony was held on August 5.

Police made their move after monitoring messages shared by the group on social networks.

Brazilian Minister of Justice Alexandre de Moraes had initially sparked controversy when describing those detained as “amateurs,” with concerns raised that his comments sent the wrong message at a time when the whole world was on red alert.

Prosecutor Rafael Brum Miron then claimed the potential terrorist plot was “no joke.”

The eight men were tried under Brazil’s new anti-terrorism law, which broadens the scope of what could be perceived as terrorism in the country.

Around 85,000 soldiers, police officers and other security personnel were deployed at the Olympic Games, which finished on August 21.

This represented a significant increase on the amount which policed London 2012.

By Daniel Etchells

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz

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