Two ex-cops arrested in assassination
SAO PAULO, Brazil – Brazilian authorities on Tuesday arrested two former police officers for the murder of an outspoken Rio de Janeiro councilwoman, a year after her assassination convulsed Latin America’s largest nation.
Marielle Franco was an fierce critic of police-run militias and police brutality and represented a poor neighborhood in Rio as the only black woman on the city’s 51-member governing council.
“Two police officers were arrested for direct and effective participation in the crime,” said Marcus Vinícius Braga, Rio de Janeiro state police secretary. “With these arrests, we get close to solving the crime.”
Franco’s murder sparked worldwide protests and she became a global symbol of police oppression.
She was driving home on the night of March 14, 2018, after speaking to a group of women about black empowerment when she was struck by nine police-issue bullets. Her driver, Anderson Gomes, was also killed.
Investigators now believe that Ronnie Lessa, a retired military police officer fired the shots. Élcio Vieira de Queiroz, a former police officer who was expelled from the force, is suspected of having driven the car.
Both men were arrested early Tuesday morning in Rio.