Posted by Robyn Smith
On May 22nd an appeal trial was postponed that was meant to decide whether or not to overthrow a 2008 court decision regarding an infamous army colonel. The decision was originally won by the Teles family and recognized Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra as a torturer. Ustra’s defense argument rests on the Amnesty Act of 1979 that was set in place and seeks to overturn the court’s earlier decision to “out” the defendant as a torturer. Ustra has been accused of a variety of human rights violations connected to his time as head of the DOI-CODI (an joint police-military operations center) in São Paulo during the early 1970s. He was the head of the unit during 1973, the year in which the Teles family was imprisoned by the unit. The family has not asked for compensation or punishment of the colonel, simply that he be recognized as a torturer. Due to his extensive time as head of the DOI-CODI São Paulo, Usta has been dubbed “o mais notório torturador do regime militar”, or the most notorious torturer of the military regime. The 2008 case was the first instance in which the Brazilian justice system made such a ruling, as reported in the Folha de São Paulo.
The decision of this possible appeal holds particular weight because the Federal Court dismissed the criminal charge brought against Ustra in regards to the disappearance of Union leader Aluízio Palhano Quarry Ferreira. The Federal Court found that the Amnesty Law protected Ustra and could only be overruled by the Supreme Court. The court also sought to clarify that the Truth Commissions were intended to be used to find the truth behind what occurred during the military dictator rather than to punish individuals involved. The ruling was passed by Judge Márcio Millani Rached. For quotes directly from Rached, follow this link. Further analysis of the case (in Portuguese) can be found here.
Also on May 22nd, the well-known double agent Cabo Anselmo was denied compensation by the Amnesty Commission. The Commission withheld compensation on the grounds that it was difficult to determine exactly when Anselmo began to work both sides of the line and whether or not he was originally with the resistance or the military. He can appeal the decision but it is unclear as to whether or not he will. The Amnesty Comittee did, however, find that Ana Lucia Valencia in Santa Cruz and Oliveira Pereira Padilha Anivaldo, the father of the current minister of health, were entitled to compensation. For further information on these matters, follow this link.