Rio float depicting Hitler, dead Jews banned

/ Source: The Associated Press

A judge issued an order Thursday prohibiting a Rio samba group from parading during carnival with a float depicting naked bodies of Holocaust victims.

Judge Juliana Kalichszteim issued the injunction in response to a lawsuit by the Jewish Federation of Rio de Janeiro, which asked for the float be removed from this city's famed carnival parade next week, said Lara Voges, a spokeswoman for the judge.

The judge said the float could be used in the parade, but that organizers of the Viradouro samba group must remove mannequins meant to represent dead bodies from the Holocaust.

Viraduro spokeswoman Eliane Lorca said the group had not yet seen the judge's order and that the president of the group would only comment after they had seen the "supposed decision."

The Jewish Federation praised the judge's decision.

"It's inadmissible that they could have a parade float depicting dead Jews and a live Hitler on top of them," said federation spokesman Jose Roitberg.

Reports in the media have said that Viradouro had planned to feature at least one dancer dressed as Adolf Hitler in the parade, using the theme: "It Gives you Goose Bumps."

Men work on a float at the Viradouro samba school in Rio de Janeiro, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008. Rio's samba parade is the highlight of Carnival, but some Brazilians are upset about Viradouro group's plans to parade with a float showing a heap of dead bodies, representing the Holocaust. Ricardo Moraes / AP

Viradouro would neither confirm nor deny those plans.

According to Kalichszteim's decision, the group would face fines of $113,000 if it ignores her order by parading without removing the mannequins and $28,000 for each dancer dressed as Hitler.

In her decision, Kalichszteim said carnival "should not be used as a tool for the cult of hate, any form of racism, beside the clear banalization of barbaric events."

Viradouro is scheduled to present its carnival parade early Monday morning at Rio's Sambadrome stadium.

Millions of Brazilians will watch the two-night parade on national television and in the Sambadrome parade grounds in Rio.