Human rights

Brazil’s attorney general files to remove Marielle Franco case to federal court

Federal police report shows “plot” by police officers, militiamen, and former Court of Audit officer to obstruct justice

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Councilwoman and human rights activist Marielle Franco was murdered in March 2018; case is still unsolved / Midia Ninja/Handout

Raquel Dodge is the head of Brazil’s attorney general’s office and manages legal cases overseen by the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office / Carlos Moura/STF

After receiving a report by Brazil’s federal police indicating there was a “plot” in Rio de Janeiro to stop law enforcement from solving the murder of councilwoman Marielle Franco and driver Anderson Gomes, who were brutally executed in March 2018, Brazil’s Attorney General Raquel Dodge filed to remove the case to a federal court.

The removal to a federal court may be requested when there is evidence of clear human rights violations in a case investigation.

Brazil’s Supreme Court will review the petition and, if the petition is sustained, the investigations will be removed from Rio’s homicide division to the federal police.

Dodge’s goal is to further investigate the evidence that seems to show that the man who ordered the murder is Domingos Brazão, a former state representative of the center-right party Brazilian Democratic Movement and a suspended official from the Rio de Janeiro State Court of Audit.

Brazão suspected of not only ordering the execution of councilwoman Marielle Franco, but also using his own office’s resources to obstruct the investigation.

The investigation conducted concurrently by the federal police showed that militiamen allegedly linked with Brazão infiltrated the homicide division.

The federal police analyzed eight probes into murders implicating militiamen and agents operating jogo do bicho, a popular, yet illegal gambling game in Brazil. None of them were solved by the homicide division.

Bribery probe

Brazão was suspended in 2017 from his job at the Rio de Janeiro State Court of Audit (TCE) after his name was implicated in a bribery investigation, when he and five other TCE officials were temporarily jailed.

He is allegedly connected with the chief of federal police Hélio Khristian, who presented tge military police officer Rodrigo Ferreira as a witness who, in May 2018, pointed councilman Marcello Siciliano and militiaman Orlando de Curicica as the men who ordered the killing of Marielle Franco.

At the time, Ferreira claimed that he overheard Curicia and Siciliano talking at a restaurant in June 2017 where they mentioned councilwoman Franco. Siciliano and Brazão are political opposers in a part of Rio’s militia-dominated west side, which was allegedly the reason why the former was accused.

Brazão is also mentioned in a probe into militia groups conducted by a parliamentary investigation committee in 2008. At the time, the then state representative Marcelo Freixo chaired the committee and requested that criminal charges should be filed against 225 politicians, police officers, prison agents, and firefighters.

Edition: João Paulo Soares