Brazilians have an expression: neste país, os ricos não vão para a cadeia.
It means, in this country, rich people don’t go to jail.
Not true in all cases, but…
…consider the case of Antônio Marcos Pimenta Neves, well-to-do, politically well-connected and a confessed killer.
The former managing editor of the Estado do São Paulo (
’s newspaper of record; our equivalent of The New York Times) he spent four years carrying on a love affair with a young journalist named Sandra Gomide. Brazil
For much of that time, he abused her physically.
Finally, she summoned the courage to end their relationship and went to the cops. They photographed her bruises and abrasions and told Pimenta Neves to leave her alone.
On the 20th of August, 2000, he showed up at her family’s farm, in the countryside near
to force a reconciliation. São Paulo
So he drew this revolver and shot her.
Once in the back.
And then, to make certain she was dead, again in the ear.
Arrested, he was released to await final judgment in liberty.
Final, is the operative word.
, is after all appeals have been exhausted. Brazil
The constitution that defends Pimenta Neves’ rights is one of the most modern and democratic on earth.
It exists, in part, to make sure that no one suffers unjust punishment.
And, to that end, offers numerous safeguards, numerous opportunities for appeal.
Of course, you need good lawyers to take advantage of them.
Pimenta Neves has very good lawyers.
It took six years to get him convicted.
(Yes, he confessed, but, in
, murder cases still have to be submitted to a jury.) Brazil
In 2008, his conviction was confirmed.
But then his lawyers sought grounds for a second appeal – and found them.
And have been finding other ones ever since.
He continues to inhabit his mini mansion in
. São Paulo
He continues to spend summers at the beach in Guarujá.
In this cartoon, entitled Meanwhile, in Gurarujá, a guy’s wife is saying (black balloon) “Isn’t that Pimenta Neves, the guy who confessed to killing his girlfriend? Look, he’s got a new one.” The guy replies, “Be more discrete. Don’t comment on promiscuous relationships.” The new girlfriend is, of course, justice. And Pimenta Neves is declaring his faith in her.
People are outraged.
Pimenta Neves doesn't care. His permit to carry a firearm has not been revoked; he’s gone out and bought himself another pistol.
He’s 72, and in excellent health for a man of his age.
Meanwhile, Sandra’s father, four years younger than Pimenta Neves, living with the frustration of seeing his daughter’s killer getting away with it, has undergone quadruple bypass surgery, has had one of his legs amputated because of a circulatory problem, has lost his job and is living on a small pension.
Living, he says, for the day he’ll see Pimenta Neves behind bars.
But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.Pimenta Neves is lucky to be Brazilian.
Leighton - Monday