Source AP ©

Spanish tourist and Italian resident of Brazil fall victims to police mistake

A Spanish tourist and an Italian resident of Brazil were shot by the police, apparently mistaking them for local thieves.

Italian Innocenzo Brancati, 39, and his Brazilian wife were heading from the airport in Fortaleza to Brancati's house, accompanied by his Spanish friend Marcelino Ruiz Ponpeu and his wife, when police opened fire on their car, said Luiz Viana, a spokesman for the Ceara state government in Fortaleza.

Ruiz Ponpeu was shot in the spine and is listed in serious condition with the risk of becoming paraplegic, Viana said. The Italian was lightly wounded on the arm.

Police said the car refused to stop at a roadblock. But Viana said police may have confused the car with another used by thieves who had just robbed an automatic teller machine but dropped the money during their getaway.

The 10 state police agents are under investigation, Viana said.

Brancati is a permanent resident of Brazil and reported the shooting to the Italian embassy in Brasilia, the capital.

The Spanish Embassy had not information about the shooting, and police had no further information about the wounded Spaniard. The name of the Spaniard's wife was not immediately available.