Latin America & Caribbean

Marielle Franco murder: Five accused of obstructing case

A wheat-paste piece of street art by artist Luis Bueno shows the councilwoman from Rio de Janeiro Marielle Franco. Image copyright NurPhoto via Getty Images
Image caption Marielle Franco was an outspoken councillor in Rio de Janeiro

Brazil's top prosecutor has accused five people of trying to obstruct the investigation into the murder of a prominent politician last year.

Two court officials and two police officers are among those named by Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge.

Marielle Franco and her driver were shot dead in Rio de Janeiro, an event that ignited mass protests.

The crime is believed to have been orchestrated by a criminal network, but no clear motive has been established.

In March, two former police offers were arrested in connection with the murders.

Ms Franco, an outspoken councillor, had been critical of the police's often deadly raids in densely populated shantytowns, or favelas, and denounced paramilitary groups run by retired and off-duty police known as milícias.

What's the latest?

On her last day in office on Tuesday, the prosecutor general said federal agents should take over the case to prevent interference in the investigation, which is being carried out by Rio civil police.

Ms Dodge, who left office after a two-year term, said she had ordered the indictment on obstruction of justice charges of:

  • Domingos Brazão, a former state legislator and adviser at Rio state's audit court, as well as Gilberto Ribeiro da Costa, his subordinate
  • Federal police officer Hélio Khristian Cunha de Almeida and Rio military police officer Rodrigo Jorge Ferreira
  • Camila Moreira Lima Nogueira, a lawyer

According to Ms Dodge, the accused tried to prevent investigators from identifying those who had ordered the crime, and fed the police false information to derail the case.

Mr Brazão denied the allegations while the other accused could not be immediately reached for comment.

The indictments and the transfer of the investigation to federal authorities need to be approved by Brazil's Superior Court of Justice (STJ).

What's the case about?

Ms Franco, who grew up in a poor neighbourhood of Rio, was returning from an event encouraging black women's empowerment in central Rio on 14 March 2018 when a car drew up alongside hers and nine shots rang out.

The two suspects arrested in March were Ronnie Lessa, accused of being the gunman, and Élcio Vieira de Queiroz, the alleged driver. They both deny any involvement.

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Media captionBlack women in Rio say they want justice for Marielle Franco

Ms Franco was shot four times in the head, and three bullets hit her driver, Anderson Gomes. Ms Franco's press officer, who was sitting in the back seat of the car, was injured.

Investigators say her killing was meticulously planned and carried out with unusual precision, which led them to believe her killers were highly trained.

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