SAO PAULO – Brazil’s Minister of Public Security Raul Jungmann confirmed on Thursday that authorities are investigating a councilman, a police officer and a former cop for the murder of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco.
According to Brazilian newspaper O Globo, a witness implicated Rio de Janeiro councilman Marcello Siciliano in the attack, as well as Orlando Oliveira de Araujo, a former cop who is in prison for leading one of Rio’s militias, which are para-police groups suspected of carrying out criminal activities such as extortion.
The informant, who used to belong to a militia, also implicated an active-duty policeman, whose identity was not revealed.
“What I can point out is that these people and others are under investigation and that Marielle’s murder case is reaching its final stage. We will soon present our results,” Jungmann said.
Some of the investigation’s preliminary findings have been leaked to the press, pointing to the involvement of the militias, which operate in many of Rio’s favelas (shantytowns) and fight against drug gangs for control of these areas.
Marcello Siciliano denied any involvement in the case during a press conference on Wednesday.
Siciliano said that he had a good relationship with the councilwoman and that they had “never had any political conflicts.”
Orlando Oliveira de Araujo also denied his involvement in a letter sent from prison to the O Dia newspaper.
The 38-year-old Franco, who has come to symbolize minorities in Brazil because she was a black female lesbian from the poverty-stricken Mare favela, was shot to death in her car by an unknown gunman as she was being driven along a downtown Rio street on March 14.
She had denounced police brutality and extra-judicial killings and was a staunch critic of military interventions in Rio’s slums.
Her death shocked Brazilians and led to massive demonstrations to demand justice.