Pressure for justice

Conectas presents arguments supporting federalization of Crimes of May

On Monday, August 7, Conectas submitted to Judge Jorge Mussi of the Superior Court of Justice an amicus curiae brief – a legal document containing independent technical opinions – on the case to federalize the so-called “Crimes of May”.

Mussi is the rapporteur of the case and is responsible for releasing it for judgement. In 2016, ten years after the events, Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot accepted a request filed by Conectas and endorsed the federalization of the investigations. The document submitted last week will support the rapporteur and the other court judges during the still-unscheduled judgement to determine whether the investigation will be transferred to the federal level.

In practice, if the majority of the judges vote in favor, the investigation into the spate of killings that occurred in May 2006 will be reopened and transferred from the São Paulo Public Prosecutor’s Office, Public Security Department and State Court to the jurisdiction of the Federal Police, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and the federal courts.

“The high rates of killings by the police – which we now know are the highest of the past 14 years in São Paulo – are a sad legacy of the culture of impunity that exists for these types of crimes. The police know that they can operate outside the law because there is no political will to investigate them impartially,” said Rafael Custódio, coordinator of Institutional Violence at Conectas.

Crimes of May
For more than 10 years, the families of hundreds of victims have been waiting for a response from the State over the murder of their relatives, the majority young people from the poor urban outskirts who were shot in the head or in the back by death squads.

The evidence suggests that the killings were a coordinated clandestine action by the police as revenge and a show of force after a series of attacks on police officers and public buildings by the criminal gang known as the PCC (First Capital Command) over a five-day period in São Paulo.

Between May 12 and 21, 2006, a total of 505 civilians were killed and 97 were wounded in shootings in the state of São Paulo. The number of killings is almost four times higher than usual for the period, compared to the previous year. Most of the victims were men up to 35 years of age with no criminal record and residents of neighborhoods in the poor urban outskirts. Over the course of these 10 days, 59 government agents were killed and another 13 were injured.

Given the inaction of the São Paulo state authorities such as the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Public Security Department, and since the State Appellate Court was no longer accepting appeals, Conectas and the families of the victims denounced the case to the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States) in 2009, alleging that the Brazilian State was in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights, which was ratified by the country in 1992. The Commission has yet to decide on the admissibility of the complaint.

In the same year, Conectas filed a request with the Office of the Prosecutor-General to federalize the case, which in practice would lead to a reopening of the investigations by the Federal Police and the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and a trial in federal courts.

Seven years after the request was made, the Office of the Prosecutor-General finally decided to pursue the case and asked the Superior Court of Justice to investigate on the federal level the shooting of five young men in the Parque Bristol neighborhood of São Paulo. It is not known when the case will be examined by the court.

The request of the Office of the Prosecutor-General to the Superior Court of Justice for the investigations into the Parque Bristol shooting – just one of many cases of summary executions that occurred between May 12 and 21, 2006 – to be taken over by the Federal Police is at best overdue, considering that the Office received the case in 2009. Nevertheless, it could be the first step in the long journey in search of justice.

  • Click here to reach the amicus curiae brief

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