Recalculating his route did not become an option for the Italian national Roberto Bardella who was shot and killed by drug dealers, who mistook him for a policeman, after his navigation system led him into the Morro dos Prazeres favela in Rio de Janeiro.
The fifty-two-year-old Bardella and his cousin Rino Polato were travelling through South America on motorbikes. Polato, who survived the attack, said they were traveling with the help of a GPS device when they noticed they had been led into an area where they were confronted by a gang of at least 10 men armed with machine guns, rifles and pistols.
Police sources estimated that a camera mounted on Bardella’s helmet may have led the gunmen to believe the Italians were actually policemen. “We believe that the criminals imagined that the victims were police officers who were filming their actions,” police spokesman Fabio Cardoso said.
Bardella was shot in the head and died instantly. Polato was searched before being bundled into a car as his cousin’s lifeless body was stashed in the boot. He was then driven around for a number of hours as the gangsters beat him up and tried to figure out who he was.
Polato said they communicated via radio and became increasingly nervous as they realised they had killed a tourist. Eventually they dumped him and Bardello’s body in another part of the city.
Although under sever shock, Polato eventually managed to give a statement to the police which led to the arrest of eight suspects, including one minor, who were charged with murder, kidnapping, theft and violence.
The two motorcycles were recovered but they had been washed of evidence. Most of the two men’s belongings, including passports and camera, were not found.