Firefighters’ arrests are political football in Brazil


The four Brazilian volunteer firefighters on their release from jail.

The release of four volunteer firefighters arrested on suspicion of torching a Brazilian Amazon protected area has failed to blunt controversy over authorities’ handling of the case and conspiratorial comments Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s has made about it. State police in the eastern Amazon state of Pará arrested the four men on Nov. 26, after wildfires that broke out in mid-September scorched a 1,600-hectare (3,954-acre) swath of a federal protected area that includes Alter do Chão, a town of 6,700. The Alter do Chão Environmental Protection Area is known for freshwater white-sand beaches and sandspits on the eastern bank of the Tapajós River, a major Amazon River tributary. Pará state police said the men were suspected of setting the fires and photographing them to raise donations for the nonprofit Alter do Chão Fire Brigade. On Dec. 19, they said a probe they had just concluded found... [Log in to read more]

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