Justice Minister Flávio Dino on Wednesday announced that the Federal Police have opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 2018 murders of City Councilor Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes.
Ms. Franco, a first-term councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro and member of the left-wing Socialism and Freedom Party (Psol), was shot dead on the night of March 14, 2018. She was 38. A year after the crime, former police officers Ronnie Lessa and Élcio Vieira de Queiroz were arrested and charged for the double homicide. They are still in jail, awaiting trial. No one was ever charged for ordering the crime.
The main investigations on the case have so far been conducted at the state level. In 2019, a Federal Police report concluded that a former officer and his lawyer tried to hinder the investigation by providing false information to the police.
A few months later, then-Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge requested authorization from the Superior Court of Justice (Brazil’s second-highest judicial body) to put the case under federal jurisdiction. The court unanimously rejected her request.
In the first month of the Jair Bolsonaro administration, then-Justice Minister Sergio Moro said he considered federalizing the Marielle Franco case, but never put the idea into motion.
Ms. Franco’s family was publicly against federalizing the case during the Bolsonaro administration, and claimed Mr. Moro “always showed little interest” in the investigation.
However, after President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office early this year and appointed Ms. Franco’s sister, Anielle Franco, as racial equality minister, the latter said that federalizing the case would be “an option” now that the Federal Police is under new leadership.
In his inaugural speech earlier this year, Mr. Dino said that solving the Marielle Franco murder is a “matter of honor.”
A new federal investigation, however, will not replace the role of Rio de Janeiro state authorities: both investigations will happen in parallel.
A few weeks before being murdered, Ms. Franco had been selected as the rapporteur of a City Council committee to oversee the federal intervention decreed in Rio by then-President Michel Temer, which placed the military in charge of security in the whole state. Jair Bolsonaro was the only presidential candidate at the time not to condemn the murder.
The Federal Police told The Brazilian Report it does not comment on ongoing investigations. The Justice Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.