[JURIST] Brazilian Judge Patricia Acioli, known for taking a hard-line against corrupt officials and militia death squads, was shot and killed on Thursday outside of her home by two masked men on motorbikes. Investigators revealed that at least twelve people are suspected [O Globo report, in Portuguese] of being involved in the attack, where at least sixteen bullets were fired into the judge’s car. After receiving numerous death threats, Acioli had requested but failed to receive police protection [O Globo report, in Portuguese]. Chief Justice Cezar Peluso [official profile] of the country’s high court condemned the execution [press release, in Portuguese] and asked for urgent intervention by the Federal Police:
On behalf of the Supreme Court, the National Council of Justice and the Judiciary, [I] repudiate the brutal murder of Judge Patricia Lourival Acioli. Cowardly crimes against. . . magistrates are attacks on judicial independence, rule of law and democracy in Brazil. The preservation of the rule of law in our country requires the rapid determination of the facts and strict punishment of those responsible for this act of barbarism. Judge [Patricia Lourival Acioli] leaves a lesson in professionalism, technical competence and dedication to the [true cause]. This… [should] be of comfort to [her] family, whom do I forward my sympathy and sincere condolences.
Judge Acioli is one of three judges executed [O Globo report, in Portuguese] in Brazil in the past eight years for their investigations into organized crime.
Judges have also been victims of violent attacks in other countries. In June of 2010, three judges were killed in a Chinese courthouse [JURIST report] by a man allegedly upset over the division of marital assets. In April of 2010, a Moscow City Court judge known for presiding over cases involving neo-Nazi groups was killed while leaving his apartment [JURIST report]. The murder of Judge Eduard Chuvashov was suspected to be a contract killing in light of the death threats he faced after presiding over the trials of members of neo-Nazi gangs. In November of 2009, a Somali judge known for jailing suspected pirates, human traffickers, and Islamist insurgents was shot dead while leaving a mosque [JURIST report] in the Puntland city of Bossaso. Judge Mohamed Abdi Aware of the Puntland high court and the Puntland Supreme Judicial Council, had recently jailed four members of the al-Shabaab Islamist group and had sentenced 12 suspected pirates to terms ranging from three to eight years.