Five men have received prison sentences for the torture and killing of Dandara dos Santos, a Brazilian transgender woman whose death was documented in a video that went viral last year.
Dos Santos, 42, was abducted in February 2017 from her home in Fortaleza, in northeastern Brazil, by a gang of men who stripped and beat her with fists, shoes, stones, and wooden planks, hauled her away in a wheelbarrow, taunted her with homophobic and transphobic insults, and finally bludgeoned and shot her to death after she pleaded for her life.
Friday morning, Francisco José Monteiro de Oliveira Jr., who shot Dos Santos, was sentenced to 21 years in prison, according to the U.K.’s Pink News and other sources, although one Brazilian site says he received a 16-year sentence. Jean Victor Silva Oliveira, who beat her with a board, was sentenced to 16 years. Rafael Alves da Silva Paiva and Francisco Gabriel dos Reis, who both participated in the beating, were also each sentenced to 16 years, and Isaías da Silva Camurça, who yelled slurs at her, was sentenced to 14 and a half years. Lawyers for Jean Oliveira and Rafael Paiva said they will appeal.
The men went to trial Thursday in Fortaleza on charges including manslaughter, cruelty, and not allowing Dos Santos to defend herself, according to the BBC, with transphobia being considered an aggravating factor. It wasn’t clear from today’s coverage, mostly machine-translated from Portuguese, what charges each man was convicted of.
Seven other people were accused of participating in the crime, reports Brazil’s Estadao (State) newspaper. Four are minors who entered a rehabilitation program, two are fugitives, and one was released for lack of evidence.
The men who went to trial all denied killing Dos Santos, although they admitted attacking her. This led prosecutor Marcus Renan Palacio to mock them in court, saying, “No one killed Dandara? Was it lightning that fell on her head? A stone that fell from the building?” according to Pink News.
Francisco Olveira apologized to Dos Santos’s relatives in the courtroom, however, saying he had been “deluded” but had now found Jesus and “learned that we have to have love in our hearts,” Pink News reports. But Palacio told him that while he and the others can “ask the Almighty” to forgive them, the justice system had to punish them. “This is not the convent of the Carmelites,” he said. “This is the Court of Justice.”
Brazil has a high rate of violence against transgender people and LGBT people in general. Nearly half the murders of trans people in the world occur there, and activists told Gay Star News that 35 trans people had been killed in Brazil so far this year. The rate of murders of LGBT people overall is more than one per day.