Anger after son of Brazil’s richest man ‘kills’ cyclist

He was on a highway driving his father’s $1.3 million sports car,a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

Written by New York Times | Rio De Janeiro | Published: April 2, 2012 1:06 am

SIMON ROMERO

Thor Batista,the 20-year-old son of Brazil’s richest man,was driving back one night in March from a meal at a steakhouse in the mountains above Rio. He was on a highway driving his father’s $1.3 million sports car,a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. At the same time,Wanderson Pereira dos Santos,30,who lived in a shack at the highway’s edge,was on his bicycle,on an errand to buy flour. His wife was preparing to bake a cake. They were celebrating her birthday.

When Batista’s McLaren suddenly smashed into Pereira dos Santos,killing him instantly,it was clear that more than the two men collided. Two Brazils met head-on: That of the wealthy and the deprived.

“It’s only this case that has gotten so much attention because of that man,” said one resident,referring to Batista’s father,Eike Batista,a mining magnate with a $30 billion fortune who used to park the McLaren in the living room of his mansion.

The crash that killed Pereira dos Santos has awakened anger and debate over wealth and influence in Brazil.

Meanwhile,using a Twitter account publicised by his father,who has almost 7,00,000 followers,the younger Batista posted messages contending Pereira dos Santos was at fault.

Some Brazilians wonder why Batista had been allowed to drive in the first place. TV network Globo reported that over 18 months he had received various fines associated with his driver’s licence, a total that would normally result in a suspended licence.

The probe continues. Even though no charges against Thor Batista have been filed,some of Brazil’s top lawyers have been hired to defend him.

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