Suspects ordered in Mariel Franco's death remain in pre-trial detention

Brazil's Federal Supreme Court (STF) today upheld the preventive arrest of three suspects accused of ordering and planning the murders of activist and former Rio de Janeiro councilor Mariel Franco and driver Anderson Gomez.

On Sunday, federal deputy Jose Cquinho Brasao, Rio de Janeiro court senior official Domingos Brasao, former head of Rio de Janeiro's civil police Rivaldo Barbosa were arrested by the Brazilian federal police on suspicion. That they were the ones who ordered the murder of Mariel Franco.

The detention was ordered on Monday by Judge Alexandre de Moraes, rapporteur of the investigation into the murder of Mariel Franco at the STF.

After arresting the suspects, the judges submitted their decision to the vote of the STF's first panel, and judges Carmen Lucia, Cristiano Janin, Luis Fuchs and Flavio Tino unanimously upheld the arrest warrants in a vote. .

Brothers Jose Cquinho Brazao and Domingos Brazao and former 'Rio' police chief Rivaldo Barbosa were arrested as part of an investigation that included the participation of, in addition to the Federal Police, Operation Murder Inc. Office of the Attorney General.—Ministry of the General and Public Affairs of the Republic of Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil's Justice and Public Security Minister Ricardo Lewandowski told a press conference Sunday that the motivation for Mariel Franco's murder was “complicated because this group [família Brazão] has multiple interests”, but political and land disputes in Rio de Janeiro's western zone have been cited as one of the motivations revealed by police investigations.

“At this point we clearly know who the perpetrators of this heinous, heinous crime of a political nature are,” Lewandowski said, adding that four other people questioned in the case were raided on Sunday and documents seized.

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Four days after the alleged arrest of those responsible for the death of Mariel Franco, the STF confirmed a legal agreement with Rony Lessa, the perpetrator of the crime, along with another suspect, former military police officer Elcio Quiros, who has been in prison since 2019. He had already signed a deal with police officials to clear up the case in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Ronnie Lessa is a former Rio de Janeiro police officer and member of a vigilante gang known as the “Milicias” who control many of the illegal businesses in Rio de Janeiro's favelas and, like him, serve as hired guns.

The shooting deaths of Mariel Franco and her driver Anderson Gomez on March 14, 2018 caused a stir both inside and outside of Brazil.

The former councilman, who is black, gay and from a favela, stood out for his work as a defender of human rights and his condemnations of police violence in Rio de Janeiro.

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