Phony investigations

Attorney General identifies serious flaws in São Paulo government inquiry and calls for Federal Police to investigate the Crimes of May

After a long seven-year wait, the Office of the Attorney General has finally decided to pursue the request for the Federal Police to investigate the killing that took place in 2006, in the Parque Bristol neighborhood of São Paulo, within the wider context of what are known as the “Crimes of May”.

The request, submitted on Monday, May 9, by Attorney General Rodrigo Janot to the Superior Court of Justice, was originally filed on May 11, 2009, by Conectas and the families of the five victims of the incident.

The two brothers Edivaldo and Eduardo Barbosa de Andrade, aged 24 and 23, were chatting outside their house to their friends Israel Alves de Souza, 25, Fábio de Lima Andrade, 24, and Fernando Elza, 21, when they were shot by a group of masked assailants. Assisted by neighbors, three of them died at the scene. One of the survivors was killed six months later just meters from where the original shooting took place. To this day, none of the crimes have been solved by the police.

Despite suspicions of police involvement in the shooting, the investigation was shelved due to lack of evidence at the request of the São Paulo Public Prosecutor’s Office.

According to Rafael Custódio, coordinator of the Justice program at Conectas, the investigation ignored the context in which the shooting occurred: the violent conflict between the criminal gang known as the PCC (First Capital Command) and the Military Police.

Between May 12 and 21, 2006, a total of 505 civilians were killed and 97 were wounded by gunfire. On the same day as the shooting in Parque Bristol, another 115 firearm murders were registered, of which 24 were perpetrated by death squads. The investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office made no mention of these facts.

“Despite the long wait, the recognition by the Office of the Attorney General of the serious flaws and omissions in the investigations conducted by the São Paulo state authorities is fundamental and exposes once again the need to reopen all the inquiries into the Crimes of May,” said Custódio.

The Office of the Attorney General claims that the investigation in São Paulo by the Civil Police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office was “pro forma and perfunctory, ignoring the pursuit of the truth and the connections between almost simultaneous and extremely similar crimes”.

It also said that the “inertia by the state authorities” made it impossible to identify the perpetrators and that, “the reopening of the investigations is undeniable, this time conducted by the Federal Police”.

Aside from the inaction by the São Paulo Public Prosecutor’s Office in this case, civil society organizations such as Conectas have been actively critical of the failure of this Office to control and investigate the public security forces – a duty assigned it by the Federal Constitution and by state law. In February, several organizations associated with the defense of human rights submitted a representation questioning the inertia of the Public Prosecutor’s Office with respect to the violent and disproportionate action of the Military Police in recent protests against the increase in public transport fares.

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