Brasilien verbietet "Grand Theft Auto" und "Carmageddon"

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Brazil Bans Another Violent Video Game

BRASILIA - Brazil has banned the sale of a computer game in which players gain points by stealing cars and killing police officers.

In a decree published on Monday, the Justice Ministry ordered all copies of the CD-ROM "Grand Theft Auto" removed from shop shelves and imposed a fine of 9,611 reals (US$8,580) on anyone found selling the product.

The ministry considers the game dangerous because it trivializes robbery and murder and could incite younger players to violence, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

"The ministry acts against anything that incites to violence," she said.

The game, produced by BMG Interactive, caused an outcry in several countries last year. Germany, Australia, and Britain all try to limit the game to children 15 and older. The game is scheduled for release in the United States next month.

"These kinds of games are dangerous and harmful because they give rise to violence," a spokeswoman for the British consumer rights organization Procon said. "Children start considering this kind of activity as normal."

Homicide is the main cause of death among 15- to 17-year olds in Brazil and its incidence is rising among younger children, according to a 1997 survey by the National Statistics Institute and UNICEF.

In a similar move, Brazil's Justice Ministry in December banned "Carmageddon," a computer game which rewarded players for killing pedestrians which included elderly and pregnant women, a senior ministry official said.

Brazil recently introduced a stringent new traffic code aimed at quelling the anarchy on its roads. Almost 27,000 people died in road accidents in 1996, the latest year for which figures are available.