Rio de Janeiro 10.06.2020 – Today, the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro State executed a series of search and seizure warrants in relation to the investigation into the brutal killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes. The operation culminated in the arrest of firefighter Maxwell Simões Corrêa, who is accused of hiding the weapons used in the assassination and being the close accomplice of Ronnie Lessa who fired the shots. Simões Corrêa’s arrest is an important step towards getting to the bottom of this crime and we hope it helps clear up the main questions that remain unanswered: who ordered Marielle’s killing and why?
Marielle Franco was killed in an ambush that had been thoroughly planned over a number of months. The investigations of the Civil Police and Public Prosecution Service of Rio de Janeiro State identified two people suspected of carrying out the criminal act, Elcio de Queiroz and Ronnie Lessa, who are currently facing criminal proceedings. It was also discovered that other people were indirectly involved in the act, concealing weapons and obstructing the investigations.
Amnesty International has been closely following the case since the outset. In the first months, we undertook campaigning actions on the 14th of every month, putting pressure on the authorities and mobilizing people around the defence of human rights. We held a series of meetings about the case with the authorities, including State Governor Wilson Witzel and the Attorney-General for Justice of the Rio de Janeiro Public Prosecution Service, José Eduardo Gussem, which were also attended by relatives of the murdered councillor. On the first anniversary of the killing, we submitted a petition with 780,000 signatures to the authorities, demanding that the case be solved, thanks to national and international mobilization. With the high visibility and public pressure that Amnesty International has generated around the case, both nationally and internationally, we believe we have contributed to ensuring the progress of the investigations.
While the detention of the two killers and people linked to them is an important step in asserting the right to truth and justice of the families of Marielle and Anderson, it does not solve the case or guarantee greater safety for other human rights defenders working in Brazil. Indeed, Brazil is one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders and has one of the highest homicide rates in the world for human rights defenders. Human rights defenders are people who, like Marielle Franco, fight for a more just world where life and liberty are protected, and those are human rights that need to be respected. Moreover, all those involved in the investigations must be kept safe, particularly the families of the victims, as well as witnesses and investigators. Therefore, it is extremely important to find out who masterminded the killing and what their motivations were.
Each day that people linked to the shootings remain unpunished represents a threat to Marielle’s legacy and puts the work and lives of countless other human rights defenders in Brazil at risk.
We want to renew our public demand for the crime to be solved, for all those responsible for the murders of Marielle and Anderson to be brought to justice and for this case to be given the highest priority by the competent authorities. The solving of this brutal crime is of particular relevance and interest to Brazilian society and the international community. We at Amnesty International will continue insisting that there is a transparent, independent and impartial investigation that answers the questions: who killed Marielle and why?
All those involved in this crime, whether physically or intellectually, must be brought to justice through a fair trial, in line with international standards. And, although the promptness of due process has been compromised, as two years have already passed since the crime, it is vitally important that the government and authorities make a public commitment to do everything in their power to solve the case.
About Amnesty International
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. The organization campaigns for internationally recognized human rights to be respected and protected in Brazil and worldwide. Founded in 1961 by British lawyer Peter Benenson, its Brazilian office was opened in 2012.
Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), email@example.com