SAO PAULO – Authorities in south-eastern Brazil have arrested two men for torturing a teenager after he was accused of stealing a bike.
The suspects, a local tattoo artist and his neighbor, said the 17-year-old boy had tried to steal a bike. The artist, Ronildo Moreira de Araujo, then took matters into his own hands by inking a tattoo on the thief’s forehead.
Ronildo’s neighbor, Maycon Wesley Carvalho dos Reis, 27, filmed the act and uploaded the video online.
Both the suspects, aged 27 and 29, confessed to writing the message, which said in Portuguese “I’m a thief and loser”, as a “punishment”.
The teen denies the accusation. His family says he has mental health problems and is a drug user.
Police identified the men after they shared a video online of them making the tattoo.
The video, which Brazilian media reported took place last Friday (June 9) in the municipality of Sao Bernardo do Campo, went viral and sparked an online debate over their actions.
In the video, the boy, who seemed frightened, is seated on a chair but not tied, while a man with a tattoo machine holds him by the hair. The man who is filming laughs and says: “It’s going to hurt.”
The boy also had his hair cut by the suspects after he tried to hide the tattoo.
Police in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo, in Sao Paulo state, have not yet confirmed that the attempted robbery took place.
The boy said he had fallen over the bike for being “very drunk”, but that he was not trying to steal it.
“I asked them to make the tattoo on my arm but they said they would do it on my forehead and started laughing,” he told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper (in Portuguese).
“I begged them to break my arms and legs instead.”
The teenager’s family said he had gone missing on 31 May and recognized him after seeing the video, which was uploaded on Friday. He was reunited with his family on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Brazilian news website Aconteceu no Vale reported on Sunday that an online campaign to raise money and pay for removal of the tattoo had been set up.
As of noon on Sunday, the campaign had raised more than 19,000 ($5,800; £4,500), exceeding its 15,000 Brazilian real target.