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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A farmer in Brazil is accused of holding his daughter captive for more than 15 years and fathering seven children with her, at least one of whom he also raped, police said on Thursday.
Police arrested Jose Agostinho Pereira, 54, in the northeastern state of Maranhao on Tuesday in a case echoing that of Austria's Josef Fritzl, who was found guilty last year of locking and raping his daughter in a cellar over 24 years.
Pereira confessed to fathering some of the children with his daughter, Sandra Maria Monteiro, but denied sexually abusing them, police officer Adriana Meireles told Reuters from the town of Pinheiro near the community where he was arrested.
Monteiro, now 28, was about 12 years old when the sexual abuse is believed to have started, police said.
Police officers had to travel by canoe to reach Pereira's remote hut in Experimento, where they found six of the children between the ages of two and 12 undernourished, lacking clothes and apparently traumatized, she said.
"It was 5 in the afternoon when we arrived and they still hadn't eaten all day, they were without clothes, dirty, scratched and had wounds on their bodies," said Meireles, the head of the civil police department for women in Pinheiro.
One of the two girls said she had been abused by her father and another, aged 5, was found to have lesions on her vagina that suggested she had also been abused.
"Everyone in the community suspected it because the daughter would be pregnant but always lived with her father. But the people there are simple and never said anything," Meireles said.
Pereira is being detained while prosecutors prepare charges against him. Child welfare agencies are caring for the children.
The case came to light two weeks ago when police were tipped off during a local campaign against pedophilia, Meireles said.
Reporting by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Paul Simao