A new attempt to try the torturers of the Brazilian dictatorship


Raquel Dodge asks STF to reopen Rubens Paiva case and pushes for Brazil to follow court
Inter-American. Prosecutors in four states have so far filed 32 criminal complaints about crimes during the regime

At the age of 25, Aylton Adalberto Mortati was a prime target for repression during the Brazilian dictatorship. He had been arrested after a student congress in 1968 and the following year participated in a spectacular action that hijacked a plane that would take him to Cuba. In 1971, after training for guerrilla warfare, he clandestinely returned to Brazil to join the armed resistance. He set up base in a house in Vila Prudente, in São Paulo, until the apparatus in which he lived was “blown up” by the military on November 4, 1971. He was never seen again and there was no record of his whereabouts in the regime’s official documents.
Now it is known that on that same day Mortati was abducted, tortured and killed, according to the accounts of witnesses and the repressors themselves, the latter given on condition of anonymity to journalist Marcelo Godoy, author of the award-winning book A casa da vovó, about repression in São Paulo. Mortati is also listed as one of the 434 dead and missing from the Brazilian dictatorship (this Sunday marks 54 years since the military coup) in the final report of the National Truth Commission. Yet, until last week, nothing had happened to those accused of the crime who are still alive.
Last Tuesday, that changed. The Federal Public Ministry denounced – formally accused before the courts – civil police officer Walter Lang, delegate Cyrino Francisco de Paula Filho and investigator Dirceu Gravina for the kidnapping of Mortati. “(They) deprived and still illegally deprive the victim of his freedom to date, through kidnapping committed in the context of a systematic and generalized state attack against the population,” says the text of the indictment.
This is the 32nd criminal denunciation of its kind in the country, part of an effort to investigate and judge the crimes committed during the dictatorship and to try to put pressure on the judiciary to change the interpretation and scope of the 1979 Amnesty Law. The legislation, which prevents people from being held responsible for politically motivated crimes between 1961 and 1979, continues to be applied to close most of the actions requested by prosecutors, despite the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2011, to which Brazil is a signatory, which requires the country to investigate and punish the crimes. The actions are also often blocked ignoring the Federal Supreme Court’s (STF) own jurisprudence regarding enforced disappearances – this is a permanent crime and, therefore, outside the scope of the Amnesty Law.
Once again, the STF
As in many other issues of national life, the Supreme Court is the only hope that the panorama, which makes Brazil the most backward in the matter among its neighbors victims of dictatorship, moves forward. For this, the court, which reaffirmed the validity of the Amnesty Law in 2010, would have to return to the issue. As part of the offensive to make this happen, the attorney general, Raquel Dodge, made a move two months ago. On February 7, she asked the STF to reopen the case of former deputy Rubens Paiva, killed by the regime in 1971, and insisted that the Supreme Court treat the issue as a “priority” and rediscuss the scope of the amnesty.
The case of Rubens Paiva is emblematic and illustrative of the legal comings and goings of the issue. The former congressman was kidnapped by repressors and died in 1971 at the former DOI-Codi in Tijuca, according to the complaint of the Federal Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro. In 2014, the MPF accused five military personnel for the crimes of murder, concealment of a corpse, armed criminal association and fraud. A judge accepted the accusation and opened the case. But when José Antonio Nogueira Belham, Rubens Paim Sampaio, Jurandyr Ochsendorf e Souza, Jacy Ochsendorf e Souza and Raymundo Ronaldo Campos were about to sit in the dock, the defense of the military got an injunction in the STF freezing everything because of the Amnesty Law.
The provisional decision was granted by then STF Minister Teori Zavascki in 2014, and this injunction is precisely the target of Dodge’s request. She wants there to be a definitive decision on the case and for the Court to “reflect” on the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) on the Araguaia Guerrilla War that, in 2011, determined that Brazil should prosecute those accused of crimes committed during the dictatorship.
“The IACHR decision marks a turning point. The Supreme Court will have to face this question. When the issue is dictatorship, the Supreme Court does not accept the sovereignty of the IACHR, but in other cases it does: in the Maria da Penha Law, in the condemnation of slave labor, for example,” Luiza Cristina Fonseca Frischeisen, deputy attorney general, told EL PAÍS.
Frischeisen, who heads the chamber of the Public Prosecutor’s Office dedicated to coordination and review in the criminal area, recalls that efforts are not only being made in the criminal area. She cites civil actions filed to clarify the State’s responsibility for serious violations against indigenous populations during the dictatorship. One of the cases is the torture and imprisonment of members of the Krenak people, in Minas Gerais. “The actions are a way of being accountable to the victims and their families. Carrying out the investigations and making the denunciations is also fulfilling this role of memory and truth. To bring into history what happened.
Original article available at: https://brasil.elpais.com/brasil/2018/03/30/politica/1522425504_069103.html

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