Military police officers arrested for murder of Marielle Franco

They were detained in Rio two days before the anniversary of the murder - The masterminds have not been found yet

Marielle Franco. Photo: Midia Ninja.

Retired military police officer Ronnie Lessa (48) and former military police Élcio Vieira de Queiroz (46) were arrested in the early morning of March 12, accused of being the ones who executed Marielle Franco, councilwoman of PSOL Party and her driver, Anderson Gomes, almost a year ago.

The arrest was made by the Homicide Division of the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro and by Public Prosecutors. Documents, cellphones, computers and weapons of the suspects were seized, according to Brasil de Fato.

According to the investigation, Queiroz was driving the silver Cobalt car that chased the vehicle of the councilwoman and Lessa was the one responsible for shooting. The crime was reportedly planned carefully for 3 months and was finally carried out on March 14, 2018. Franco had been appointed to lead a committee to monitor the military intervention actions in favelas of Rio, which started in February that year.

Ronnie Lessa was monitoring events attended by the councilwoman through a cellphone bought in someone else´s name. This military officer lives in the same condo where Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has a house: in Barra da Tijuca, to the west of Rio, according to G1 news website.

“Marielle Franco was undoubtedly executed due to her political action. The act of barbarism committed on March 14, 2018 was a blow to the Democratic State of Law”, states the  indictment paper.

Earlier this year, it was reported that two women related to a fugitive linked to the murder of Marielle were employees of the government office of one of the sons of the Brazilian president, what suggests that the Bolsonaro clan could be linked with people close to the criminals implicated in the murder.

“What they did with Rio´s public security to reach this point is extremely serious. Now, what is more important, is knowing who was behind the murder. Those who killed her are not only the ones who pulled the trigger. What was the political motivation? What were the interests behind Marielle´s death? This is what we have to demand now”, said federal MP, Marcelo Freixo of PSOL, friend of Marielle, who was also monitored by the suspects, to G1 news outlet.

Mónica Benicio, the widow of Marielle Franco, said that the councilwoman “became a symbol of resistance”. “We see her image replicated in the whole world, which was outraged by the violence and which also recognized her work as a human rights defender and what she stood for”, she said. Marielle became a symbol as a black woman, a woman from the favelas, a lesbian, a feminist and a defender of these causes from the point of view of intersectionality and party politics.

There are mobilizations being planned in all Brazilian states and different capitals of the world to demand Justice for Marielle and Anderson this March 14th, which marks a year from both their murders.


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