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News > Brazil

Brazil: 2 Former Police Arrested in Marielle Franco Murder

  • A man paints Marielle Franco's face and demands punishment of the guilty in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mar. 18, 2018.

    A man paints Marielle Franco's face and demands punishment of the guilty in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mar. 18, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 12 March 2019

One of the detainees lives in the same condominium where President Jair Bolsonaro resides in Rio de Janeiro.

Two former policemen were captured Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro as suspects in the murder of Marielle Franco, a councilwoman and human rights activist who was shot on Mar. 14, 2018.

Bolsonaro's Son Linked to Suspect of Marielle Franco's Murder

"Two police officers were arrested with a direct and effective participation in the crime," Marcus Vinicius Braga, Rio de Janeiro state police secretary, said and added that "with the these arrests, we get close to solving the crime."

One of the detainees, the military police  officer Ronnie Lessa, is suspected of being the shooter that killed the councilor of Rio de Janeiro. The other detainee, Elcio Vieira de Queiroz, who had been expelled from the military police, is accused of driving the car from which the crime was carried out.

Franco, a lesbian black woman, who was a member of the leftist Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) and defender of minority rights, was shot dead inside her vehicle as she was heading home after leaving a political event.

"What a coincidence, isn’t it? One of those arrested for the murder of Marielle, suspected of being responsible for the shots that killed the councilwoman, lives in the same condominium as Bolsonaro. The other prisoner has a picture hugging Bolsonaro. Scoundrels, criminals, murderers!"

Her murder provoked great indignation in Brazil, since the councilor had stood out for her forceful condemnations of police abuses in the favelas, Rio's poor shantytown neighborhoods. Loved among the most humble citizens, Franco was remembered in the parades of some of the samba schools, which participated in the 2019 Rio de Janeiro carnival last week. 

"Marielle Franco was summarily executed because of her political actions for the causes she was defending," states the complaint filed by the Prosecutor's Office requesting the arrest of the accused parties.

Lessa was arrested in his home which is located in the same condominium where Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro resides, the neighborhood of Barra de Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro.

“Who does not remember this speech from former [Public Security] minister Raul Jungmann? It is urgent to know by whom and why the order to kill Marielle was given. Jungmann says "powerful politicians" are behind the death of Marielle.”

The investigators discovered that the crime was meticulously prepared for three months with Lessa having made inquiries of places frequented by Franco. They also established that since October 2017, he was also investigating Deputy Marcelo Freixo, one of the main leaders of the PSOL, as well as General Walter Net Braga, who was then acting as public safety inspector for Rio de Janeiro.

The Public Prosecutor's Office, which preemptively asked the judge to suspend Lessa's pension payment and his license to carry arms, also filed petitions so that the accused, if found guilty, will be obliged to pay compensation to Franco's family.​​​​​​​

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