Rio de Janeiro: The widower of the Brazilian police commissioner found dead this week confessed to killing the officer, known as a tough adversary of the paramilitary groups known as "militias" that in some poor Rio de Janeiro neighbourhoods have ousted the drug trafficking gangs, officials said Friday.

Law student Alessandro Oliveira Furtado confessed when questioned that he was guilty of killing Tatiene Damaris Furtado, commissioner of the 36th Civil Police Precinct in Rio de Janeiro state. The body of the policewoman, who began her career in 2005 as a fingerprint expert, was found Thursday at her home on the city's west side with bruises on different parts of her body but with no bullet or knife wounds, according to the authorities, who are still trying to determine whether she was suffocated.

The husband was called to testify when police found no indication that anyone had broken into the commissioner's home, and neighbours said they had seen no one who looked suspicious. Detectives in charge of the investigation originally thought the murder might have been an act of revenge by the militias, since the commissioner had reported that they had threatened her.

Furtado had cracked down on the militias, illegal organisations made up of police and ex-police personnel who drove out the drug-trafficking gangs from some Rio shantytowns only to impose a regime similar to that of the drug lords, collecting "taxes" for services like security and gas.