Two politicians and a former police chief have been arrested in connection with the murder of Marielle Franco in Brazil.

Two politicians and a former police chief have been arrested in connection with the murder of Marielle Franco in Brazil.

Two powerful politicians and Rio de Janeiro’s former chief of police have been arrested as part of a federal police operation targeting the suspected masterminds of the 2018 assassination of Rio councillor Marielle Franco.

The event, dubbed Murder, Inc, commenced in the early hours of Sunday and occurred approximately six years after the tragic shooting of Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, sparked global outrage.

According to reports from Brazilian media, three well-known individuals have been apprehended: Chiquinho Brazão, a federal congressman; Domingos Brazão, his brother and former state congressman, who also serves as an advisor to Rio’s court of auditors; and Rivaldo Barbosa, the former chief of Rio’s civil police.

For years, the Brazão siblings have been accused of participating in organized crime, but they have consistently denied these allegations. In the 1980s, they were allegedly known in Rio as the “Irmãos Metralha” (The Beagle Boys), referencing the antagonists from the Disney cartoons.

After the information about the arrests became public, Marcelo Freixo, a significant left-leaning politician with a close relationship to Franco, posted on Twitter: “The arrests of the Brazão brothers and Rio’s ex-police chief today clarify the perpetrators, the instigators, and the lack of investigation in this murder.”

Lawmaker Renata Souza, a friend of Franco, stated that the arrests were a crucial progression. She also tweeted that the Brazilian government and judicial system have a responsibility to provide an explanation to society. After six years of suffering and sorrow, we are finally approaching the answers we have been seeking.

“The statement released by Franco’s family declared this as a significant day for Brazilian democracy, marking progress in the quest for justice. While Mari cannot be brought back, this brings us one step closer to the closure we desire.”

The Brazilian justice minister, Ricardo Lewandowski, told journalists in Brasília that this is a major victory for the Brazilian government in their fight against organized crime.

Monica Benicio, widow of Marielle Franco, told reporters the assassination was an attack on democracyView image in fullscreen

On the evening of March 14, 2018, Franco, a member of the Socialism and Freedom party and 38-year-old lawmaker, was fatally shot while heading home from an event. Despite her relatively brief time in politics, Franco, a black, homosexual activist from the favelas, had gained recognition for her fearless advocacy for Brazil’s marginalized communities and her vocal opposition to police brutality.

After six years since the killing, it was revealed that Ronnie Lessa, a former police officer, was the hitman responsible for pulling the trigger. He is currently incarcerated and awaiting trial. However, the masterminds behind the crime have yet to be apprehended and their reasons for committing the act are still unknown.

The inquiry, “Who is responsible for Marielle’s death?” has become a slogan for the Brazilian progressive movement, as seen at demonstrations and on online platforms. However, this question has remained unresolved for several years.

In the upcoming 2022 election, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a leftist leader, was elected as president and renewed efforts to seek justice for the murderers of Franco. Lula promised to tirelessly pursue the perpetrators and appointed Franco’s sister, Anielle Franco, as the minister for racial equality in a meaningful gesture.

Anielle Franco expressed gratitude towards Lula’s administration and the federal police for a wonderful day on Sunday.

Franco tweeted, “We have longed for this day, only God knows. Today marks a significant milestone in our journey to uncover the truth behind the years of questioning, ‘Who took Mari’s life and for what reason?'”

Sunday’s arrests appeared to be the result of a plea bargain Lessa recently struck with investigators, in which he agreed to name the masterminds in exchange for a reduced sentence and other benefits.

The specific mentioned responsibilities of the Brazão brothers, who established their political paths in the West region of Rio under paramilitary influence, and the ex-police chief Barbosa, were not immediately understood. However, reports from the area indicated that Lessa had accused Barbosa of giving approval for the murder and providing assurance to the planners that they would not face consequences.

The news that the head of the police force in Rio could possibly have been involved in one of the most infamous crimes in the city’s past shocked acquaintances and family members of the victim. Just a few days after the murder, Barbosa confidently stated to journalists, “We will not stop until this crime is resolved.”

Protesters in São Paulo pay tribute to Marielle and Anderson

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On Sunday morning, he was arrested at his home in a condo in west Rio. The assets of the former police chief’s wife were reportedly frozen as a result of suspicion she had been involved in money laundering.

Anielle Franco became emotional when she was informed on live Brazilian television that Barbosa may have played a role in her sister’s death. Despite the tragedy, she declared that they will not be defeated and will continue to honor Marielle’s memory.

Monica Benício, the wife of Franco, expressed anger over the former police chief’s supposed participation. She stated, “This is not simply a betrayal, but a direct assault on democracy. It also sheds light on the corrupt ties between politics and the police in Rio de Janeiro.” Benício shared her frustrations with reporters.

When asked if she was afraid for her life due to the influence of organized crime in Rio, Benício stated that the trauma of the killings had given the families of the victims an unbreakable courage. She promised that their determination for justice for Marielle and Anderson would not waver.

On Sunday morning, as the arrests were being carried out by police, Flávio Dino, who served as justice minister under Lula and is now a supreme court judge, shared a quote from Psalm 92 on Twitter: “The foolish do not know, the senseless do not understand, that although the wicked may thrive and the evildoers may prosper, they will ultimately be destroyed.”

Ubiratan Guedes, the attorney representing the Brazão siblings, refuted any involvement in the crime and expressed shock at their arrest. “He was not acquainted with Marielle and had no ties to her. It is now the responsibility of his defense team to demonstrate his innocence,” said Guedes regarding Domingos Brazão. According to reports, Barbosa’s attorney chose not to respond to inquiries as he arrived at the federal police headquarters, where the former police chief of Rio was being detained.