The Brazilian colonel who headed a police operation that resulted in the death in 1992 of 111 rebelled inmates at the Carandiru Detention House in São Paulo, Brazil, has been killed. His crime inspired the acclaimed the 2003 Hector Babenco’s movie Carandiru.
Ubiratan Guimarães, 63, was condemned to 632 years in prison, in 2001. Last February, however, the sentence was annulled by the São Paulo state’s Supreme Court and Ubiratan acquitted. The annulment left a bad taste in Brazil and overseas contributing to the usual perception that impunity is the norm in the country.
Guimarães went on to become a state assemblyman in the São Paulo legislature and was running for reelection in the October 1st general elections.
The Military Police colonel, who was found shot to death fallen on the floor, wrapped in a bath towel, in his São Paulo apartment, had been receiving death threats since the Carandiru massacre on October 2, 1992.
He was never arrested for the Carandiru massacre. And Carandiru itself, once Latin America’s largest prison, has been demolished in 2002 and made into a public park.
According to police, he was apparently killed by a single pistol shot, which hit him under the right nipple and exited through the back. There were no signs of fight in the apartment and the back door was standing ajar.
The police believe he was killed Saturday night or early Sunday since the Sunday’s newspapers left by the door were never picked up.
He lived in an apartment building on José Maria Lisboa street, in the Jardins, a wealthy neighborhood in the west zone of São Paulo.
His girlfriend, Carla Cepalino, 42, who left the apartment on Saturday around 9 pm, was already interrogated by the police for two hours this Monday. She denied all rumors that she had killed Guimarães or had left the door open so that the killer could his job.
The director of Carandiru at that time of the massacre, José Ismael Pedrosa, was murdered in October, 2005, in Taubaté, in the interior of São Paulo. The crime was attributed to the PCC (First Command of the Capital), a prison gang formed to protest the Carandiru deaths. They have been terrorizing São Paulo since May. The PCC is not a suspect in the case, though, at least for now.
Guimarães’s aides said they believe the death was an execution conducted by criminals. "They succeeded," they told reporters.
"It was a tragedy. The PTB (Brazilian Labor Party, his party) is mourning. Colonel Ubiratan was a model of companion in the party. Character and loyalty were two traits that distinguished him," said state deputy Campos Machado, vice president of the PTB.
Guimarães was in his second mandate. He was chosen with 56,000 votes and his return to the Legislative Assembly seemed guaranteed mainly due to his opposition to the PCC.