Exactly a thousand days ago, councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were brutally murdered in Rio de Janeiro.
To date, there are no answers about who was the mastermind of the crime investigated by the Civil Police and the Rio de Janeiro Public Ministry (MP-RJ).
Over the course of almost three years, the inquiry points to the participation of militia members who are part of the security forces.
Rio de Janeiro politicians, are suspected of being the authors of the crime and at least three of them were considered suspects in the planning of the execution: councilor Marcelo Siciliano, former city councilor Cristiano Girão and former state congressman Domingos Brazão. They all deny any involvement.
The suspicion about Brazão intensified in September 2019, when Raquel Dodge, in her last act as the head of the Attorney General's Office (PGR), filed a complaint with the Supereme Court of Justice (STJ) pointing to him as responsible for the crime.
A few months earlier, in June, Brazão became a defendant in a criminal action after Operation "Quinto do Ouro", an offshoot of the Lava Jato anti-corruption investigation that looked into government fraud. He was arrested in 2017 but was released and remains out of office.
On the same occasion, Dodge suggested moving the case to a Federal court, a change denied in May of this year by the STJ.
The decision was in line with the will of Marielle's family, who, despite defending federalization at first, changed their mind after Jair Bolsonaro’s election.
On March 14th, 2019, retired police officer Ronnie Lessa and former military police officer Élcio Queiroz were arrested on charges of being the perpetrators of the crime. They will go before a popular jury to defend against the accusations.
The motivation behind the crime is not yet clear, but according to the MP's complaint against the militiamen, Marielle was killed because of her activism in favor of human rights.
The federalization suggested by the former PGR was boosted after an investigation was opened by the agency to look into obstructions in September 2019.
Federal police officers Hélio Khristian de Almeida and Gilberto da Costa, Military Police officer Rodrigo Jorge Ferreira, lawyer Camila Nogueira, and again, Domingos Brazão, were indicted by Dodge.
They allegedly acted to harm city councilor Marcelo Siciliano and militiaman Orlando da Curicica, in addition to planting a witness in order to divert the focus of Civil Police investigations of the murders.
A month earlier, fireman Maxwell Simões Correa had also been arrested in Rio de Janeiro on charges of obstructing investigations related to the execution of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes.
He owned the car used to conceal Ronnie Lessa's weapons which, after the crime, were thrown overboard.
Bolsonaro and the militia
The president's relationship with militiamen in Rio de Janeiro became clear from the start. In a special report published on the two year anniversary of Marielle's murder, Brasil de Fato detailed the ongoings of the investigation and Bolsonaro's proximity to those involved.
Check out some excerpts:
Investigators approached Domingos Brazão after wire taps made by the Federal Police on militiaman’s Jorge Alberto Moreth, known as Beto Bomba telephone number.
In a conversation with city councilor Marcello Siciliano (PHS) that took place on February 8th, 2019, that was published by news portal UOL, the militiaman states that Brazão is the mastermind of the crime and that he paid R $ 500 thousand for the councilwoman's execution.
Civil construction entrepreneur, Marcello Siciliano, who was serving his first term in the Rio de Janeiro City Council, was elected in 2016 with an expressive vote in the west side of the municipality, in regions controlled by militias, like Rio das Pedras.
In December 2018, the City Council approved a project by Marcello Siciliano, in partnership with councilors Felipe Michel (PSDB) and Inaldo Silva (PRB), which authorized the Atitude Baptist Church, in Barra da Tijuca, to build their new and largest temple, which has since been inaugurated.
The church is attended by Michelle Bolsonaro and Jair Bolsonaro, who even hosted a farewell party for the faithful when they went to live in Brasília.
In a Federal Police report, militiaman Rodrigo Jorge Ferreira, known as Ferreirinha, who was also wire tapped by Federal Police (PF), talks about the electoral dispute in the Barra da Tijuca region as a possible motivation for Brazão to kill Marielle Franco.
In a telephone conversation intercepted by the PF, militiaman Beto Bomba points to other executioiners of Marielle’s murder: Edmilson Gomes Menezes, a.k.a Macaquinho, Leonardo Gouveia da Silva, a.k.a Mad, and Leonardo Luccas Pereira, know as Leléo. Military Police Major Ronald Alves Pereira reportedly headed the operation.
Ronnie Lessa and Élcio Queiroz were arrested in Rio de Janeiro a month after the conversation.
Office of Crime and Bolsonaro
Ronnie Lessa, Élcio Queiroz, Mad, Leléo and Macaquinho are part of the roster of hired killers of the criminal enterprise known as the Office of Crime, a group of agents from the security forces that have worked in the region of Rio das Pedras, west of Rio de Janeiro, for at least 20 years.
Cited by Beto Bomba, Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega, a former SWAT officer, is pointed to as head of the organization.
Killed on February 9th of this year, after a police operation that tried to capture him in the state of Bahia, after a year on the run, Adriano da Nóbrega is a key figure in understanding various crimes, but also in understanding the relationship of the Bolsonaro clan with the Rio de Janeiro militias.
The lawyer for the former SWAT agent, Paulo Emílio Catta Preta, who is also the lawyer for Fabrício Queiroz, raised in an interview with Globo, the possibility that his client died because he knew too much. However, he did not specify Nóbrega's secrets.
Nóbrega had already been mentioned in the news, since it is claimed he was a beneficiary of the “cracked salary” scheme, that occurred in the office of then state congressman and Federal Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, Jair Bolsonaro’s son.
It is called a "cracked salary" scheme because it happens when for example, employees of a parliamentarian's office pass on part of their salaries to the politician.
The Public Ministry used information from the Financial Activities Control Council (Coaf) to indicate that Fabrício Queiroz, while advising Flávio Bolsonaro, received R $ 2 million to his account, divided into 483 deposits.
In the same mandate at the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj), worked both Nóbrega's ex-wife and mother, Danielle Mendonça da Costa and Raimunda Veras Magalhães, respectively.
Altogether, Queiroz moved R $ 7 million in three years. Between January 2016 and January 2017. Flávio Bolsonaro's former advisor made several deposits and withdrawals totaling R $ 1.2 million over this period. In 2016, a R $ 24 thousand deposit was made to the account of first lady Michelle Bolsonaro.
Asked about the transfer to his wife, Jair Bolsonaro said he gave Queiroz a loan and the deposit was part of the payment. The president recalled in an interview, that he has been friends with his son's former aide since 1984.
Friendship is also the nature of the relationship between Adriano da Nóbrega and Queiroz, who have known each other since 2003, when they served together in the 18th Battalion of the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro (PMRJ). Precisely at this time, Nóbrega received his first tribute from Flávio Bolsonaro at Alerj.
The second would come in 2005, the year in which the former SWAT agent was tried and convicted by a grand jury of homicide. The militiaman did not attend the hearings.
During his trial, Nóbrega received important support from then-deputy Jair Bolsonaro. After the hearing that culminated in the conviction of the militiaman, the current president of the Republic went to the Chamber of Councilors and defended the policeman. "He was always a brilliant officer."
In 2007, Nóbrega appealed the decision and was acquitted. In 2013, he was expelled from the Military Police, due to his involvement with illegal gambling.
Another important character from the so-called "Office of Crime", Major Ronald Paulo Alves, mentioned by Beto Bomba as responsible for organizing the group of assassins who would execute Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes, was also honored by Flávio Bolsonaro at Alerj.
In 2004, the president's son celebrated an action led by Alves that ended with three deaths. A year earlier, in 2003, the major participated in the slaughter of five young people inside the Via Show nightclub in São João de Meriti, near Rio.
Four policemen have already been convicted in the case and only the agent honored by Flávio Bolsonaro has not yet been tried.
On February 15th, after Nóbrega's death, Bolsonaro was questioned about his relationship with militiamen and denied any ties. "I don't know the militia in Rio de Janeiro. I don't know. There is no connection between me and the militia in Rio de Janeiro," said the president.
Edited by: Douglas Matos