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New Arrest in Assassination of Black Queer Lawmaker Marielle Franco

New Arrest in Assassination of Black Queer Lawmaker Marielle Franco

Marielle Franco mural
Fabio Vieira/FotoRua/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Marielle Franco was shot dead by a gunman in a passing car in 2018 – two former police officers have been arrested in the case.

The Brazilian Justice Minister earlier this week announced a plea agreement with one of two police officers accused of assassinating Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco, a Black lesbian and human rights activist who was killed by gunfire from a passing car in 2018.

Former police officers Ronnie Lessa and Elcio de Queiroz have been in custody for the crime since their arrests in 2019.

At a press conference on Monday, AFP reported Justice Minister Flavio Dino said Queiroz “confirmed his participation and that of Ronnie Lessa” in the killing of Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, that took place on March 14, 2018, following a chase on the streets of Rio. Queiroz reportedly admitted he drove the car used in the assassination but claimed Lessa fired the gun that killed Franco. Dino said the investigation has pointed to a wider conspiracy involving elements of organized crime and paramilitary groups.

Prosecutor Eduardo Morais Martins said Queiroz implicated Maxwell Simoes Correia, a former firefighter who allegedly hid the weapons used in the killing and played a key role before and after the attack, most notably by conducting surveillance on Franco and arranging the acquisition and disposal of the vehicle. Correia was arrested at his home in Rio on Monday, where he was under house arrest for obstruction of justice in the case.

Franco’s sister, Anielle, thanked investigators for the progress to date but wondered aloud when justice would be served for those who ordered the assassination. Anielle currently serves as minister of racial equality.

“I reaffirm my trust in the federal police running the investigation and repeat the question I have been asking for the last five years: who ordered Marielle’s killing and why?” Anielle wrote on Twitter.

Dino on Monday said the investigation is moving forward.

“I want to assure the victims’ families and civil society that the investigation is moving forward and will produce new results,” the Guardian reported Dino said at the press conference.

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