2 ex-cops held over Brazilian politician’s murder

Almost a year after Brazilian politician, feminist and human rights activist Marielle Franco, above, was killed in execution style shooting, two former police officers have been arrested.

The arrests happened just two days before her death anniversary on March 14. The death of the Rio councillor had sparked outrage and revived debate on Brazil’s rising crime especially in its favelas or slums controlled by drug traffickers and other gangs with police support.

Franco was raised in one such crime-ravaged favela, Mare.

Franco, 38, and her driver Anderson Gomes were killed by gunmen in another car as she was returning home after a town meeting on racism.

The arrested suspects were identified as Ronnie Lessa, a retired military police officer, and Élcio Vieira de Queiroz, a former police officer.

The two officers directly participated in the crime and police are close to solving the case, said Marcus Vinícius Braga, the Rio de Janeiro state police secretary.

According to him, Lessa fired the shots while Queiroz drove the car that ambushed Franco and Gomes. Queiroz was immediately sacked.

The shooting was planned over three months, prosecutors said, adding that Franco was killed for her fight against criminals and officers who backed them.

Lessa and Queiroz were arrested at their homes. Documents, laptops, cell phones, weapons, ammunition and other items were seized.

One of the detained officers lives in the same gated community where the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, lived before taking office last year. The president has not been linked to the case so far.

Many politicians, rights activists and supporters of Franco described the arrests as important but late. They now want to know who ordered the killing.

Franco, the only black woman councillor, was a rising star of the leftist Socialism and Liberty Party.