Two former police officers have been arrested for the murder of Brazilian Councilwoman Marielle Franco.
Calgary Herald reports two former policemen, Ronnie Lessa and Elcio Vieira De Queiroz, are suspected of last year's killing of Franco. They were arrested Tuesday, two days before the first anniversary of her passing. The councilwoman's death in a drive-by shooting has been called an assassination by her supporters, many of whom marched in her memory during Brazil 2019 Carnival, as Blavity reported.
Authorities now believe Lessa was responsible for pulling the trigger. De Queiroz is accused of being behind the wheel of the car.
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Both Lessa and De Queiroz were fired from the Brazilian police force in 2015 for undisclosed reasons. Lessa, who resides in the same luxury housing community as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, was apprehended at his home.
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel celebrated the apprehension of the men.
“It was a crime against a lawmaker, a woman, exercising her democratic function and had her life taken away through in an unacceptable, criminal way,” Witzel said of Franco's murder. “It’s unacceptable to any human being, but this was even more unacceptable because Marielle was exercising parliamentary duties.”
The Philadelphia Tribune reports some of Franco's allies view the arrests with suspicion. State legislator Marcelo Freixo said he doesn't believe the former policemen were the brains behind the attack.
“Who sent them?” Freixo asked. “We don’t accept the version that these people were motivated by passion and hate when they didn’t even really know who Marielle was.”
At the time of her death, many of Franco's supporters believed she had been assassinated by right-wing elements in the country's government loyal to politicians like Bolsonaro and Witzel, as Blavity reported.
Rio de Janeiro police have not yet offered possible motivations for the accused killers.
On Thursday, the anniversary of Franco's death, citizens will reportedly march to honor her legacy.
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