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Brazilian police arrest suspects in 2018 murder of Rio councilor Marielle Franco

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Brazilian police arrested three people on Sunday, including a federal lawmaker, in connection with the 2018 murder of Rio de Janeiro city council member Marielle Franco and her driver, two sources at the federal police told Reuters.

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Federal police arrested Congressman Chiquinho Brazao, his brother Domingos Brazao, a councilor on the Rio de Janeiro state audit court (TCE), and former Rio police chief Rivaldo Barbosa, the two sources said on condition of anonymity.

The police said in a statement that it was serving three arrest warrants and 12 search and seizure warrants in connection with the murder, but mentioned no names.

Police officers arrived at TCE headquarters early on Sunday to carry out a search and seizure warrant at the office of Domingos Brazao, the audit court said in a statement.

Chiquinho Brazao’s office and Rio’s police did not immediately reply to requests for comment.


Franco was gunned down in her car as she left an event on the night of March 14, 2018, with her driver Anderson Gomes and her press secretary Fernanda Chaves, who survived.

In March 2019, two former police officers, Ronnie Lessa and Elcio de Queiroz, were indicted on charges of shooting Franco and her driver, and last year police arrested another suspect linked to the case.

Queiroz, accused of driving the car used in the crime, and Lessa, suspected of firing the gun, made plea bargain agreements with authorities, with Lessa providing information on who gave the order to kill Franco.

Justice Minister Ricardo Lewandowski said Lessa gave investigators important new information last week that would allow them to solve the case “soon”.

Franco, 38, was a black, openly gay and progressive council member born in a poor Rio de Janeiro neighborhood. Investigators believe her killing to be a political assassination carried out by paid hit men.

A rising star in the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), Franco was an outspoken critic of police killings of Rio slum residents and her death sparked nationwide protests by Brazilians fed up with endemic violence.

“Today is another big step towards getting the answers we have asked so much in recent years: who ordered Mari to be killed and why?” Anielle Franco, the victim’s sister and Brazil’s minister of racial equality, said on X.

Watch moreFRANCE 24’s 2018 interview with Anielle Franco

(Reuters)

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