Militias Blamed for Murder of Brazil Judge

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The assassination of a Rio de Janeiro criminal judge, known for handling cases against the city’s powerful urban militias, has called attention to the threats facing judicial authorities across Brazil.

The judge, Patricia Lourival Acioli, was shot up to 21 times outside her house by unidentified gunmen on August 11. Acioli sat on the Fourth District Court of São Goncalo, and had issued a number of rulings that came down hard on gangs in the district.

This includes issuing a warrant for the arrest of Anderson Luiz Azeredo Coutinho, a crime boss who controls São Goncalo’s gambling industry. In 2009, she denied a plea to revoke the arrest of another gang leader, Gregory Luz Rogerio, according to O Globo. The São Goncalo gangs may have been planning her assasination since 2009, the newspaper reports.

She was known for taking action against the urban militias, frequently made up of former police or firemen officers, who control parts of Rio. Acioli reportedly issued up to 60 rulings against policemen and former policemen who ran militia groups. In September 2010, she had four militia members arrested who may be responsible for over 100 murders. In January, when police arrested another vigilante leader in a nearby district, he was carrying a list of 12 people blacklisted by the gangs, including Acioli.

Acioli reportedly had police escorts assigned to her between 2002 and 2007, but despite recent death threats did not ask for renewed protection. However, friends and family members say that she did request increased security, but was denied.

An estimated 100 judges in Brazil have received death threats or else rely on police protection, reports EFE.

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