Military indicted over Riocentro bombing

One of the bombs went off on the lap of a sergeant ordered to fire it

Published in 18/02/2014 - 15:34 By Vladimir Platonow reports from Agência Brasil - Rio de Janeiro

The Federal Public Prosecution have indicted five military men and a police chief in connection with a lawsuit that became known as the RioCentro case, a bombing attack planned by the military against civilians during a concert to mark the Labor Day celebrations in the Rio de Janeiro Convention Center (Riocentro).

Retired Generals Newton Cruz and Nilton Cerqueira, retired Colonel Wilson Luiz Chaves Machado, and former police chief Claudio Antonio Guerra were charged with first-degree murder with two aggravating circumstances, criminal conspiracy with the use of weapons, and carrying explosives. Newton Cruz was also indicted on cronyism. Retired General Edson Sá Rocha was indicted on criminal conspiracy with the use of weapon, and retired Major Divany Carvalho Barros was charged with procedural fraud.

The Riocentro bombing took place in April 30, 1981, when a bomb exploded killing Sergeant Guilherme Pereira do Rosário, who was next to his colleague Wilson Machado inside a Puma car. The bomb went off while on Rosário's lap. While the vehicle was completely destroyed, Machado survived. Yet another bomb went off inside the RioCentro powerhouse, when about 20,000 people were at Riocentro for a Labor Day concert (May 1st in Brazil).

The Riocentro case has been opened twice by the Military Court in 1981 and 1999, but the investigations bore no results. According to Prosecutor-General Antonio Cabral, there are grounds for reopening the case now because new evidence and witnesses have emerged. “They include documents found at colonel Júlio Miguel Molina's place – he was the commander at the Rio de Janeiro DOI [an information service body of the military dictatorship] back then.”

According to Cabral, the datebook where Molinas used to write down information on the Riocentro case was produced to the courts following his death in 2012. There are also several testimonies of unheard witnesses who had seen the military handling the bomb inside the Puma, as well as testimonies of people who saw when the bomb was fired in the powerhouse and were close to the explosion.

The prosecutor argued that crimes committed during the military dictatorship (1964-1985) do not become time-barred. “This is consistent with an Inter-American Court of Human Rights understanding, aligned with international legal practice, that crimes committed during the military dictatorship in the context of a systematic attack against the population are not subject to time-barring principles,” Cabral said.

Human rights activist Susana Lisboa, from the Family Members' Committee on Political Killings and Disappearances, says that the Riocentro case reopening is of ultimate historical importance. “It is vital to restoring truth, especially so that justice can be done. Agents of the state – luckily enough – have made technical errors which have resulted in failure to kill thousands of people as planned. Now it's time to hold them accountable for that.”

Translated by Mayra Borges

Fonte: Military indicted over Riocentro bombing

Edition: Carolina Pimentel / Nira Foster

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