RIO DE JANEIRO — Nearly two months after a Black councilwoman was shot and killed in Rio de Janeiro, police on Thursday recreated the murder scene in hopes of discovering clues about who did it.
The late night simulation took place on the same street where Marielle Franco and driver Anderson Pedro Gomes were shot dead on March 14 while on their way back from an event focused on empowering Black women.
Surrounding streets were blocked off and police put up black tarps to obstruct the view of journalists and other onlookers. Scores of soldiers were on hand to secure the area for tests that would include gun shots.
Detective Giniton Lages told reporters that witnesses who were on the street when the killing happened were participating.
“It’s important to have the movement of the vehicles and sounds,” said Lages. “We can also see if the shooter was skilled or not. If there was a burst of shots or they were intermittent.”
The simulation comes at a time of growing frustration over an apparent lack of progress toward solving a slaying that shocked Latin America’s largest nation and led to demonstrations in several countries. There are also questions about how the case has been handled amid several leaks.
Elected in 2016, the 38-year-old Franco was a member of the left-leaning Socialism and Liberty Party. She was known for social work in poor and marginalized shantytowns, or favelas, and for her outspokenness against police violence. Just days before she was killed, Franco lamented on social media what she alleged were recent police killings.
“There is huge concern that two months after the killing of Marielle Franco there are no answers from authorities,” said Renata Neder, research coordinator for Amnesty International Brazil.
Franco’s death touched a nerve in a nation where more than 50 percent of people identify as Black or mixed race yet most politicians are white. Activist groups in other countries, such as Black Lives Matter in the United States, saw Franco’s death as a symbol of a larger struggle for equality.
The day after the attack, hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Rio to demand answers. Protests in Brazil and demonstrations other countries followed the proceeding weeks.
In the aftermath, President Michel Temer and state authorities said the perpetrators would be brought to justice. However, no arrests have been made and public security experts have openly criticized the investigation.
A barrage of leaks to local media have included information about the possible origin of the bullets, the car used by the assailants and even the names of people being investigated.
“These are things that should never be leaked,” said Ignacio Cano, a professor at Rio State University and head of its Violence Analysis Lab.
Cano said that the chances of solving a crime usually drop dramatically after a few days, but the Franco case was different because it was so high profile.
Late Thursday, Public Security Secretary Raul Jungian told reporters in the capital of Brasilia that councilman Marcello Siciliano, along with a police officer and a former officer and militia boss now in jail were being investigated.
“We should soon have results,” he said, adding that others were also being investigated.
Siciliano held a press conference Wednesday to deny his involvement a day after his name was first leaked.
With each passing day, there is increasing fear that the killing will go unsolved, the fate of the vast majority of murder cases in Brazil. The country has the dubious distinction of being the world leader in absolute number of homicides each year. — (AP)
In 2016, 57,395 people were killed in Brazil, according to Brazilian think tank Igarape, more than in the United States, Mexico, Canada and China combined.
Numerous studies in Brazil have found that less than 10 percent of homicide cases are solved. — (AP)