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Brazil court sentences police for prison massacre

A Brazilian court on Saturday sentenced 25 police officers to lengthy prison terms for their role in the 1992 Carandiru prison massacre. Each defendant was sentenced [BBC report] to 624 years for the use of deadly force during the riot, which was one of the worst of its kind in Latin America, but no convicted person can serve more than 30 years in prison under Brazilian law. The ruling marks the second part of a four-section trial concerning the riot. The defense lawyers commented that they plan to appeal the ruling, arguing that the officers were threatened and fired in self-defense.

Brazil has been working to fight corruption since the 2005 "Mensalao" scandal. In March the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern [JURIST report] about excessive detention and lack of legal assistance in Brazil, after a 10-day visit to the country. Last November the Supreme Court of Brazil sentenced a former aide to ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to over 10 years of imprisonment [JURIST report] for his involvement in the vote-buying scheme. Jose Dirceu, Lula's former chief of staff, was convicted of using public funds to pay coalition parties for political support. The trials of those accused of participating in "Mensalao" were hailed as a potential turning point [NYT report] for Brazil in the its fight against corruption. In August 2011 Brazilian Judge Patricia Acioli, known for taking a hard-line against corrupt officials and militia death squads, was shot and killed [JURIST report] outside of her home by two masked men on motorbikes. Acioli was one of three judges assassinated in Brazil in the past eight years for their investigations into organized crime.

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