War on Impunity Has Won a Battle, Says Brazil

The ombudsman of Brazil’s Special Secretariat of Human Rights (SEDH), Pedro Montenegro, considers the condemnation of the perpetrators of the massacre in Eldorado dos Carajás, in Pará state, a decisive mark in the war against impunity in Brazil.

“It represents one more decisive step to break the vicious cycle of impunity that exists in our country,” Montenegro said. He participated in Friday’s, November 19, judgment in Belém.


Despite his satisfaction over the outcome, the ombudsman emphasizes that the delay in judging the perpetrators of the massacre, which occurred in 1996, reveals the legal system’s weak point in dealing with crimes committed by a large number of people.


“The judgment reveals in a very cruel manner the difficulty faced by the courts and the state’s public safety agencies in investigating crimes committed by the police, especially when it happens on a large scale,” he warns.


Montenegro also says that around two thousand members of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) accompanied the ruling in front of the Pará Court of Justice building.


The third trial of the Eldorado dos Carajás massacre ended in a unanimous decision in favor of the immediate imprisonment of the commanders of the operation that resulted in the death of 19 landless workers in April, 1996.


Coronel Mário Colares Pantoja and Major José Maria Pereira de Oliveira had already received maximum sentences but were awaiting judgement of their appeals in liberty. The Court maintained the innocence of the other 142 policemen who took part in the operation.


The Eldorado de Carajás massacre is the name given to the police operation that ended in the death of 19 landless workers, when the police moved to unblock the PA-150 highway, in 1996.


Twelve police officers and 69 landless workers were wounded. The commanders of the operation, Pantoja and Oliveira, were condemned but are awaiting judgement of their appeals in liberty.


Agência Brasil
Translator: David Silberstein

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