Almost one year after the violent assassination of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman and activist Marielle Franco, Brazilian authorities have arrested two ex-military officers in connection with Franco’s murder, according to The New York Times. Franco’s death reverberated throughout Brazil, a passionate advocate for the underserved in her community.
Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were murdered on March 14, 2018 after a gunman opened fire, showering their vehicle with 14 shots.
Early Tuesday morning around 4 a.m. Brazilian police arrested Ronnie Lessa and Elcio Vieira de Queiroz. Police believe Lessa fired the shots while Queiroz drove the getaway vehicle.
The arrests stoke the fires of numerous speculations that Franco was the target of an attack coordinated by the political powers that be. As of now, police have no motive and have yet to release information regarding who ordered the attack.
“It is undeniable that Marielle Francisco da Silva was summarily executed for her political activities and the causes she defended,” prosecutors wrote in a court document, according to the O Globo newspaper. “The barbarity committed the night of March 14, 2018, was an affront to a democratic state guided by the rule of law.”
Senior investigator Giniton Lages told the Times that 34 additional warrants would be served in order to find out who orchestrated the assassination.
“I don’t want there to be another case like Marielle and Anderson,” he said during a news conference. “It would be very dangerous to leave this matter unsolved.”
Franco was referred as a political force to reckon with, serving as the lone Black woman on the city council. She frequently spoke against the increasing state-sanctioned violence in Rio and also openly advocated for the rights of Black women and members of the LGBTQ community, two communities that she fiercely identified with.
Thousands of people in Brazil and across the world took to the streets to protest her death in the days following.
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