Ex-Police Officers Arrested for Marielle Franco's Murder

Elias Hubbard
March 14, 2019

Two former police officers were arrested Tuesday in connection with the murder of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco, nearly a year after her death.

Street artist Aira Ocrespo paints a graffiti art, in the Mare favela in Rio de Janeiro, on March 18, 2018, in tribute of Franco.

Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were returning from a meeting Franco had attended on empowering black women when their vehicle was attacked.

Ms Franco had been highly critical of the deployment of federal security forces to Rio's poor neighbourhoods.

Justice Minister Sergio Moro said on Twitter he hoped the arrests would provide "greater clarity to this awful crime so that those responsible face justice".

Despite the claims of a breakthrough, some were skeptical.

Investigators did not confirm who ordered the killing or their motivations.

"It's unacceptable that we waited a year to have a response", he added.

Lawyers for both men said they did not commit the crime.

"There is no better way to honour Marielle Franco's wonderful legacy than by committing to protect human rights defenders and ensuring they can safely continue their vital work".

The press office for President Jair Bolsonaro did not immediately reply to request for comment.

A photo of Bolsonaro with murder suspect Elcio Vieira de Queiroz dating back to 2011 went viral on social media after it was published on de Queiroz's Facebook account, which has since been deleted.

A police spokesman told The Associated Press that two men were taken into custody early Tuesday.

"Treat it as another misstep made by the police and courts", he said. Franco and Gomes were returning from a meeting Franco had attended on empowering black women when their auto was attacked.

These are the first arrests in a case that shocked Brazil.

Investigators opted to zero in on Mr. Lessa after lifting his digital records and noting that he monitored Marielle Franco's day-to-day schedule, leading the police to believe that he had been tracking her movements. While police had questioned many people, before Tuesday nobody had been arrested or charged in the shooting of Franco, a prominent activist for Afro-Brazilian and LGBT rights.

Thousands took to the streets in protest across Brazil after the killings, which drew global condemnation from rights groups.

Prosecutors in a special organized crime unit say the shooting was meticulously planned over the course of three months, and there is no doubt that Franco was "summarily executed" because of her political activism and the causes that she defended.

"The reality is changing", Witzel said of the police and reforms under way.

Flavio Bolsonaro, a senator, is being investigated for money laundering during his time as a Rio state lawmaker, and is under pressure to explain how family members of one of the city's most powerful militia leaders ended up on his legislative payroll at the time.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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