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Brazilian prosecutors must enlist specialist investigators to solve the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, if there is to be any hope of bringing those responsible to justice, Amnesty International said today.

“Three months have gone by since Marielle was brutally taken from us, and we are no closer to knowing who killed her and why. This lack of justice is unbearable for her loved ones, those who worked beside her and other human rights defenders who are looking over their shoulder in fear,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil.

“The authorities must accelerate their efforts to solve this heinous crime. The first step is for the public prosecutor’s office to ensure greater oversight over the police investigation by mobilizing members of the special public security and organized crime taskforces.”

Three months after Marielle and Anderson were shot to death in the neighborhood of Estácio, in Rio de Janeiro, on 14 March, the authorities have released scant details due to the high-profile nature of the case.

However, media reports said CCTV cameras near the scene of the killings had been switched off shortly before the shootings. The media also reported that whoever pulled the trigger was trained to handle the murder weapon, a submachine gun, which may have been taken from an arsenal belonging to the civil police. Media reports also alleged that the ammunition used in the crime was misappropriated from a shipment ordered by the Brazilian federal police.

“The authorities have indicated that they are investigating these allegations – which is the least they can do. They must go further and ensure the entire case is investigated thoroughly, impartially and to the highest international standards,” Jurema Werneck said.

“Marielle dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of the most marginalized, from black youths living in the favelas to women and LGBTI people. By publicly denouncing violations of those rights, at the hands of the police among others, she played a crucial role in upholding the rule of law. The fact that she has been silenced is a grave threat to all those who speak out against injustice. This crime cannot remain unsolved.”

Amnesty International reiterates its call for the authorities to uncover not only the identities of those responsible for firing the shots, but also the masterminds behind these murders.

Background

Elected to Rio de Janeiro’s city council in 2016 with the fifth-highest vote total in the municipality, Marielle made a name for herself as a defender of human rights. Just days before her murder, she had been named the rapporteur on the commission created by the council to monitor the federal intervention into Rio de Janeiro’s public security. 

Marielle and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were shot to death as they were returning from a public debate on the evening of 14 March. At least 13 shots were fired, four of which hit Marielle in the head, in what appeared to be a carefully planned killing.

Read more:

Marielle Franco was always there for us and now we’re there for her (News, May 13, 2018)

Brazil: International solidarity is crucial to solving activist Marielle Franco’s killing (News, May 12, 2018)

We must not let Marielle Franco’s killing go unpunished (News, April 17, 2018)

Brazil: Authorities must bring all those responsible for Marielle Franco’s death to justice (News, April 13, 2018)

Brazil: Authorities must investigate the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco (News, 15 March 2018)