Brazil: The Candelaria trial: a small wedge in the fortress of impunity
In July 1993 a gang of hooded men opened fire on a group of over 50 street children sleeping rough near the Candelaria Church in Rio de Janeiro. Seven children and one young adult were killed. Three military police officers and one civilian were soon charged with the murders and subsequent investigations have implicated five other military policemen, two of whom were indicted in June 1996. Investigations have focused on eyewitness identifications by survivors of the massacre. In April 1996 Marcos Vinicius Borges Emanuel, a military policeman was sentenced to a total of 309 years' imprisonment for his role in the massacre, later reduced at a retrial on 26 June to 89 years. While Amnesty International welcomes his conviction, there remain concerns over the authorities' failure to effectively investigate other extrajudicial executions, and their failure to adequately protect witnesses to such killings, including witnesses to the Candelaria massacre.