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Crime and Impunity

Crime and

Political assassination is an all too common occurrence in Alagoas.
Ten percen or more of the murders committed in the state are execution style, with the
victims being tied up, hit with several shots and left in a remote location.
By Émerson Luís

The recent assassination of Alagoas state assembly member Ceci Cunha and three of her
relatives by a hired gun has once again drawn attention to an old problem in that state:
political murder without impunity. According to police the murderer was at the service of
House Representative Talvane Albuquerque.

It was very symptomatic that a confessed assassin gave a press conference after being
heard by the police about the case and then went calmly back home. The gunman is Maurício
Novaes, known as Chapéu de Couro (Leather Hat) who accused Talvane of trying to enlist
him for the execution.

According to attorney Pedro Montenegro, a member of the Fórum Permanente Contra a
Violência em Alagoas (Permanent Forum Against Violence in Alagoas), a non-governmental
group , the legislator’s assassination is an all too common occurrence in the state.

Montenegro talked about the problem in an interview with Rio’s daily Jornal do
Brasil: "A little before this assassination there were four other massacres all
of them by hired guns. In 65% of the murders committed in the state last year the police
haven’t even started an investigation. In Alagoas, there are people who look for a gunman
as if they were visiting a dentist or a doctor."

Statistics compiled by the Fórum Permanente contra a Violência show that 10% or more
of the murders committed in Alagoas are execution style, with the victims being tied up,
hit with several shots and left in a remote location.

Alagoas senator Teotônio Vilela Filho, who was a political ally and a personal friend
of Ceci Cunha, believes that impunity is the main reason for this continued situation of
lawlessness. He has proposed a joint action by federal and state police to prosecute and
punish this type of crime.

Political assassination hasn’t spared anyone. Alagoas governor Ronaldo Lessa had his
brother, police chief Ricardo Lessa, killed while investigating a murder by a gunman who
entered the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital to execute a patient. Sílvio Viana, chief
inspector of the state Finance Secretariat was also gunned down by hired gunmen.

Last year the Federal Police helped chase an Alagoas military police gang, which was
responsible for assassinations and bank and car robbery. As a result, 95 policemen were
put in jail. Apparently, crime involving policemen has fallen dramatically. But, until
recently, 80% of organized crime involved the military and civilian police.

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