Brazil Chamber of Deputies validates Deputy Chiquinho Brazão’s arrest for the murder of Marielle Franco

By April 13, 2024

São Paulo, Brazil – Brazil’s lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, on Wednesday upheld the arrest of a suspected mastermind behind the 2018 murder of Rio de Janeiro city councilor Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes. 

In a 277 to 129 vote with 30 abstentions, the deputies surpassed the 257 votes needed to uphold the arrest of the suspect, Chiquinho Brazão, who is a federal deputy for Rio de Janeiro. Under Brazilian law, whenever a deputy is arrested, the Chamber must analyze the court order before it can be upheld. 

At the end of March, Chiquinho Brazão was arrested along with his brother Domingos for allegedly ordering the hit on the late activist and politician. Police accused the politician brothers of ordering Franco’s murder because of her interference in land-grabbings committed by armed militias in Rio de Janeiro. 

According to police, Chiquinho was seeking to negotiate with the militias to develop the land while Franco opposed the project, arguing that the land should be used to address the city’s housing deficit for poorer residents.

Councilor Marielle Franco was murdered in 2018

On March 14, 2018, Franco was returning from a political event when her car was attacked and riddled with bullets. Both Franco and her driver, Gomes, were killed. The two shooters, former police officers Ronnie Lessa and Élcio de Queiroz, were identified and arrested in 2019.

It would be six years later, at the beginning of 2024, when a break to identify the masterminds behind the crime would finally take place. 

Lessa agreed to cooperate with investigators and told police that politician brothers Chiquinho and Domingos Brazão, who is a counselor at the Rio de Janeiro Court of Auditors, were behind the assassination. Less also named Rivaldo Barbosa, the former head of Rio de Janeiro’s police, as being involved in the plot. 

The three were arrested late last month, nearly six years to the day after Franco’s murder.