Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brazil: Suspects in murder of Brazilian journalist to face jury trial


On 13 August 2014, the Criminal Court of Goiania (in Brazilian state of Goias) decided to put the five people accused of murdering local journalist Valerio Luiz in front of a jury. Valerio Luiz was killed in July 2012 after leaving the offices of RĂ¡dio Jornal 820 AM, the radio station where he worked.

According to Judge Lourival Machado da Costa, there is reliable evidence of who is responsible for the crime.

Valerio Luiz de Oliveira Filho, the journalist's son, who is also a lawyer, considers the decision "a big step". "It is as if justice has confirmed that there is enough evidence for the case to go forward, indeed enough to submit the defendants to the jury".

Mauricio Sampaio, notary and former Vice President of Atletico Goianiense Football Club, is thought to be the mastermind of the crime and will be prosecuted for first degree murder. According to the prosecution, he ordered the killing because of Luiz's criticism of the Atletico Goianiense football team.

One of Sampaio's bodyguards, the police officer Adema Figueiredo, will also be prosecuted for first degree murder for acting as the shooter.

The other three accused for participating in the crime - Djalma Gomes da Silva, also an officer; Urbano de Carvalho Malta, driver; and Marcus Vinicius Pereira Xavier, butcher - will be prosecuted as accomplices.

Xavier is named as the provider of the motorcycle, helmet and gun used in the murder and was on the run until 7 August 2014, living in Europe. He was captured by the Portuguese police and his extradition is being processed by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.

Appeals can block the process

The defendants had up until Friday 22 August to file appeals against being tried by jury. Oliveira Filho says the decision on these possible appeals will be "a crucial moment". According to him, if the State Court changes the Criminal Court's decision regarding any defendant, there will be too little odds left in the higher Courts to get the litigation through.

Back in May, Oliveira Filho expressed his concern about contacts in the State Court that Sampaio has as a notary, possibly influencing the trial of appeals.

Case can be sent to Federal Justice

According to the journalist's son, auxiliary judges from STJ (Brazilian Superior Court of Justice) were in Goiania last month to evaluate parts of the trial process, in order to decide if the case can be moved to the Federal Court. Jorge Mussi, the judge responsible for the decision, has not made an announcement yet.