PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 19/18/98
8 July 1998
Further information on UA 12/98 (AMR 19/03/98, 15 January 1998) and follow-up
(AMR 19/07/98, 2 February 1998) - Fear for safety / Medical concern
BRAZILVágner Marcos da Silva, aged 26, and his family
Amid renewed concerns that Vágner Marcos da Silva’s health is deteriorating
even further, the charges against him of drug dealing and attempted homicide
of two military police still stand following a ruling that his case should
proceed to trial. The trial is scheduled to take place in the 1st Jury Court
of Rio de Janeiro in August.
No investigation has yet been opened into the alleged shooting and ill-treatment
of Vágner Marcos da Silva by four military policemen on 27 August 1997. Since
then, he has been held in Bangu Prison Hospital. He has received only minimal
medical treatment and none of the specialist medical care which he requires.
Vágner Marcos da Silva’s family fear that his physical condition is actually
deteriorating. He is still paralysed down his right side and can only walk
with difficulty, on crutches. He is unable to talk because all his teeth were
smashed whilst in police custody. He has great difficulty eating prison food
without teeth. Being semi-paralysed, he cannot feed himself. His family report
that prison staff charge them US$200 dollars a week to provide special food
and to feed him.
During his arrest, Vágner Marcos da Silva was hit by a police bullet in the
head, exposing brain tissue. He continues to be mentally confused and has
suffered some memory loss. On several occasions his family has found him to
be heavily sedated. He urgently requires dental care, physiotherapy,
examination of his head injuries and a special diet, none of which has been
provided to date by the prison authorities.
The presiding judge has twice refused petitions by Vágner Marcos da Silva’s
lawyer to have him released on bail in order to receive medical treatment and
be cared for by his family. The judge alleges that he is not eligible for bail
because the charges against him are considered "heinous crimes". Preventive
detention is generally used for prisoners who pose a threat to society, or
are likely to flee or intimidate witnesses.
The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state
under 22 (2) that "Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be
transferred to specialised institutions or to civil hospitals".
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Portuguese or in your own language:
- expressing concern that, in contravention of the UN Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners, Vágner Marcos da Silva has still not received adequate
- urging the authorities to immediately provide him with the specialist medical
care he requires, either within Bangu hospital, or in a civil hospital;
- calling on the authorities to exercise their discretionary powers to release
Vágner Marcos da Silva on bail, given the inability of the prison authorities
to provide him with adequate, statutory care;