Posted by Vanessa Castañeda
In a federal court in São Paulo, substitute judge Rubem David Müzel rejected charges brought by prosecutors of the Federal Public Ministry against Colonel Alberto Ustra in the case of the 1971 death of journalist Luiz Merlino. Following the lead of some other judges, Müzel ruled that Ustra cannot be tried because of the 1979 Amnesty Law. During some of the harshest years of the dictatorship, Ustra served as head of the São Paulo DOI-CODI, a joint military and police command center and major torture center. Ustra has already lost a civil case; however, the ruling on that occasion did not involve punishment, but rather resulted in a declaratory sentence recognizing him as a torturer because the case was tried in civil rather than criminal court.
On 30 of September 2014, four former political prisoners (imprisoned from 1969-1971), along with researchers from the National Truth Commission (CNV) and the Minas Gerais Truth Commission visited a former torture center in Belo Horizonte. Maria Celina Pinto Albano, the coordinator of the Minas Gerais Truth Commission said, “it’s difficult, and often times it’s very painful, but we are unraveling, discovering and showing what actually happened during this period of our history.”