EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 19/15/95
UA 191/95 Death Threats 1 August 1995
BRAZIL Franco CANEVA Jr
Fernando César NUCCI
Stella KUHLMANN (f) - public prosecutors (promotores)
Three public prosecutors at the Military Courts of São Paulo state are reported
to have been receiving death threats because of their work to prosecute military
police officers implicated in human rights violations.
According to the information received by Amnesty International, the threats
are related to the prosecutors' investigations into the "House of Detention
massacre" of October 1992 and other crimes committed by members of the military
police, particularly the elite battalion known as ROTA (Rondas Ostensivas Tobias
de Aguiar). The threats are also reportedly related to the prosecutors' public
statements in favour of transferring the jurisdiction of certain human rights
crimes from military to civilian courts.
The above-named prosecutors, especially Dr Stella Kuhlmann, have previously
received death threats, in 1992 and 1994. However, the threats have intensified
since 29 June 1995, when the three met with Justice Minister Nelsom Jobim and
were urged by him to speed up proceedings against 120 military police officers
and soldiers charged with homicide and other crimes for their participation
in the 1992 massacre. According to recordings of the telephone calls, the
callers use police-like codes and jargon.
On 2 October 1992 a rebellion erupted in the Casa de Detenção prison in São
Paulo. Fighting broke out between prisoners who then seized control of Block
9 of the prison. Shock troops of military police stormed the prison to quell
the rebellion. When they withdrew 11 hours later, 111 prisoners were dead.
Eight separate inquiries into the massacre were established. All found that
either "excesses" or "military crimes" had been committed and that most
prisoners were killed while defenceless in their cells. The military justice
prosecutor has brought charges against 120 military police officers and soldiers
for homicide, attempted homicide and grievous bodily harm. The prosecutor
described the massacre as "the largest slaughter recorded to date in a single
prison in the world [where] detainees' prison sentences were arbitrarily and
illicitly turned into death sentences."
Dr Stella Kuhlmann suffered extensive intimidation in 1992, when she and other
prosecutors began an investigation into alleged murder and extortion by members
of the ROTA military police battalion. In addition to the death threats, a
number of bomb threats occurred at the courthouse where the trial members of
a ROTA unit was held. The trial resulted in the convictions of two of four
police defendants in August 1993.
This is the second case in Brazil in one month where public prosecutors
investigating crimes by members of the military police have been threatened
with death. In July public prosecutors Mauricio Assayag and José Muiños Piñeiro
investigating a massacre by military police officers in Rio de Janeiro
reportedly received death threats. In this case the judge in charge of the
proceedings, was also threatened (see UA 167/95, AMR 19/13/95, 10 July 1995).