A Rio Councilwoman’s Killing Was a Mystery. an Arrest Gave a Peek at Corruption Keeping It Unsolved

Two days after Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman Marielle Franco’s 2018 assassination, her widow sat down with the chief of the state’s civil police, Rivaldo Barbosa, who pledged to do everything in his power to hold the guilty parties to account.

In fact, the man Veja magazine once exalted as “Rio’s Sherlock” had the exact opposite intent, according to newly revealed allegations. Federal Police arrested Barbosa on March 24 — over six years later — for allegedly helping orchestrate Franco’s killing and taking money to obstruct the very investigation he would oversee.

“Hours after my wife’s murder, I was in front of a man who knew exactly what had happened and, more than that, who was part of ordering it,” Mônica Benício said through tears in an interview with TV Brasil after his arrest.

The explosive revelations in the nearly 500-page Federal Police report offer an unprecedented glimpse into how organized crime has undermined Rio’s institutions and reveal the extent of corruption in a city where militias allegedly pay police to look away. The death of Franco, a rising political star who resisted militias’ expansion and fought ardently for the poor, has driven home the consequences of allowing organized crime to run roughshod over Rio’s sprawling landscape.

“The Marielle case is quite emblematic,” said Jacqueline Muniz, a professor of public security at the Federal Fluminense University and ex-director of Rio’s public security secretariat that oversees police. “In Rio, we govern with crime — not against it.”

Barbosa’s arrest came only after federal authorities started investigating once leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in 2023. Federal Police made a plea deal with former police officer Ronnie Lessa, who told them that two politician brothers hired him to kill Franco and informed him Barbosa had signed off beforehand. Police say they ordered her dead because she was an obstacle to militias’ interests.

Barbosa’s attorneys told The Associated Press that he categorically denies any wrongdoing or having ever met the accused politicians, and said the allegations are conjecture based on a criminal’s words.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

©2024 Global Security Wire. Use Our Intel. All Rights Reserved. Washington, D.C.