Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brazil: Corrupt Rio de Janeiro Cop Sentenced to 21 Years for Assassination of Prominent Judge

As a follow-up to my posting of  September 27, 2011, entitled "Eight Cops Arrested in Murder of Brazilian Judge Tough on Vigilante Groups," Sergio Costa, Jr., a Rio de Janeiro state police officer was sentenced to 21 years in prison on Tuesday (December 4).

Costa confessed to the August 12, 2011 assassination of Judge Patricia Lourival Acioli, 47, who was shot 21 times while waiting for her garage door to open at her home. His sentence was reduced after he confessed to the murder in conjunction with the investigation of ten other Rio state police officers who were linked to the Judge's murder, the remainder of whom will be tried in 2013.

COMMENT: Costa was linked to the murder after forensic investigation corroborated that he used his own government-issued service pistol to kill  Judge Acioli, a mother three, who presided over a criminal court in the municipality of Sao Gonçalo, where she was particularly tough on corrupt cops affiliated with organized crime.

Unlike judges in many Western nations, those in Latin America are tasked with aggressively participating in the actual investigations of defendants, largely because of the high percentage of corrupt cops.

Tragically, Judge Aciola was the first judge in the state's history to be assassinated because of her official duties. During her tenure she sentenced some sixty police officers to prison.

Despite pre-attack indicators that she was under intense threat by the police officers she was investigating, her protective detail, made up of the very officers linked to her investigation, followed her home as part of their duties, only to execute her.

As in the case of  Dr. María Santos Gorrostieta in México (see my posting of yesterday), Judge Aciola took her position very seriously and was killed for her diligence and professionalism.

We wish her family well in the hope that the first sentencing of one of the police officers responsible for her death will find peace and comfort in finally seeing justice done.