Brazilian Indians Accused of Killing Police Say They Were Beaten to Confess Crime

On Wednesday, April 26, three of nine Brazilian indigenous people accused of killing two civil police officers in Porto Cambira, in the interior of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, on April 1st of this year gave their deposition.

The judge of the 1st Criminal Court of Dourados, Dileta Terezinha Thomaz de Souza, heard the depositions of Ezequiel Valensuela, Jair Aquino and Lindomar de Oliveira.

Chief Carlito de Oliveira, who according to the police is the man behind the murders, preferred to remain silent. "He preferred to use his constitutional right to remain silent," the judge explained to a newspaper of Mato Grosso do Sul.

The case is being judged by a state court after investigations carried out by the civil police, which indicted the nine indigenous people.

The defense of the defendants requested that the case should be judged by a federal court, but the request was denied by the judge, who said that it does not involve any dispute over indigenous rights.

The arguments in favor of having the case judged by a federal court, however, are based on the fact that the police officers were killed after entering a camp where the indigenous people live. An appeal can still be filed against the decision of the judge.

The interrogation of the other five indigenous people was postponed to June 2 at the request of the defense attorneys.

Violence

The three indigenous people who were interrogated denied the participation of chief Carlito in the fight which led to the death of the police officers and presented versions which were different from the one presented by the police about the context and motive of the murders.

The indigenous people said that the police officers went to their camp with guns and started shooting and that before they approached their car they thought they were security guards of nearby farms, who are often seen walking around in the region.

Here is part of the transcripts of the deposition of the indigenous person Ezequiel Valensuela to which Cimi’s legal advisors had access:

"On the day and time of the facts, the police officers entered the Passo do Piraju camp (…) firing their guns and went to the farm of a Japanese neighbor and when they returned we approached their car to ask why they had fired their guns.

"When the police officers returned they were approached and one of them fired a twelve gauge rifle, shooting the other police officer in the leg; the indigenous people did not know that they were police officers and that that they were people hired by farmers.

"The leader of the camp, Carlito, did not order the action which led to the death of the police officers, but when they began to fire their rifles, the indigenous people headed to the highway to check what was happening and then waited for them to return to approach them, but Carlito took no part in this action."

According to the transcripts of the interrogation, the defendant Lindomar Brites de Oliveira said that he arrived in the area after the facts had taken place and denied what he had told civil police officers on April 2.

According to the transcripts: "The interrogated confirmed the interrogation held on April 2, 2006 only because despite the presence of federal attorney Otavio Cavalcante, the chief of police said that if he changed a single word of his deposition he would be beaten, and because he had been beaten in the police station before, he became very afraid and confirmed his deposition; (…) the interrogated was beaten when he was arrested but did not know whether the other indigenous people who were arrested were beaten also."

The beating was also mentioned in the deposition of the other defendants. Jair Aquino Fernandes said that "when the defendant was re-interrogated in the presence of federal attorney Otavio Cavalcante, he tried to explain that many things that he had mentioned (sic) in his interrogation with the police were not true (sic) but that the chief of police in charge said that the interrogated had to confirm his interrogation and because the interrogated had been beaten hard before and he became very afraid and just confirmed the transcripts of the interrogation."

The transcripts also mention the deposition that "the interrogated, Sandra and Valmir were arrested together and all the three were beaten by the police and on the following day Lindomar Marcio and Paulino were arrested, who were also beaten by the police."

Eviction

About 200 indigenous people of the Guarani-Kaiowá people set up a camp once again three years ago in the region of Porto Cambira, in a location they call Passo Piraju.

On Wednesday, the 26th, federal judge Kátia Cilene Balugar Firmino of the 2nd federal court of Dourados set a deadline of five working days for Funai to report the location where it will take the indigenous people after they are evicted from that area, which may happen as of May 11, according to a decision made by a federal court on April 11.

The indigenous people who are camping in the area in question had a writ of mandamus authorizing them to stay in the area until an anthropological study identifying the land was carried out by Funai.

Cimi – www.cimi.com.br

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