Monday, August 15, 2011

The Murder of a Judge

Patrícia Lourival Acioli, according to a defense attorney who knew her well, had “a serious problem”.

She wasn’t afraid.

Patrícia, until last Thursday, was a judge in São Gonçalo, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro.
She used to say she hated murderers, particularly murderers who were cops.

And she was famous for putting them away.
No one in the state had a better record against rogue elements within the law-enforcement community.

In September of 2010, she condemned an entire “Death Squad”,   four men who exterminated 11 people.

In January of this year, it was the turn of six policemen who systematically murdered criminals “resisting arrest”.

And just last week, she ordered the incarceration of still another group of murderous, badge-carrying thugs.

She was tough and competent.
She handed down heavy sentences.
And there was more than one cop who hated her for it.

In an interview published last year, she said this:

“No one dies before their time. I know there are those think it’s the judge who’s responsible for all their troubles, but let’s not forget that it’s the honest cops who investigate, the prosecutors who make the charges, and the juries that bring down the verdicts. I’m not afraid of threats. If someone wants to do something to me,  they should stop threatening – and do it.”

On Friday, the 12th of August, they did.

It was just after midnight.
Patrícia arrived home to find a car blocking the entrance to her garage.
When she stopped, she was waylaid by two men on motorcycles.

They shot her 22 times with two different pistols – a .40 and a .45.

Calibers that, in Brazil, are restricted to the armed forces – and to members of the federal, civil and military police.

Patrícia was 47 years old and the mother of three children.

Leighton – Monday


  1. My life is mapped out: it is my destiny to take a bullet by the Mafia some day. The only thing I don't know is when.
    —Giovanni Falcone

    These are the words of the great anti-Mafia prosecuting magistrate who was killed with car bomb in 1996. I wish I could believe in heaven, so I could imagine a gorgeous reward for Acioli, Borsellino (another anti-Mafia judice) and him--together would be nice! The Sicilians have put memorial pictures of Falcone and Borsellino on all the busses in Palermo. The Brazilians should do the same for Acioli in Rio and San Paolo. She deserves the undying admiration of her countrymen.

    As usual, Leighton, you inspire me. I think I will blog about Falcone and Borsellino this week and link to this too sad, but so important post.

  2. Chilling. Thankfully, there are people who still do the right thing. Sadly, they too often pay with their lives.

  3. Corrupt cops means cops on someone's payroll. That payroll is usually that of one of the faceless, nameless drug importers.

    Cities like Boston aren't immune to corruption but it is cities like Miami, and those along the Gulf Coast or in close proximity to the Mexican border that have the most serious problems. Police officers in many parts of this country make barely a living wage. The billions of dollars that move around through the drug business can become a terrible temptation.

    Worse, especially in Mexico, police who try to close down the trade are targeted by the drug traffickers. Twelve Federal officers were killed two years ago, the bodies dumped in the same place. How many police are willing to take that risk when even their families aren't safe?

    The war on drugs is an extremely expensive waste of money but no politician would dare say so. The sale and importation of drugs will not be stopped until there is no longer a market for the product. That will happen when hell freezes over.

  4. How terrible!

    But I hope this will not prevent other judges from trying to stop police violence and corruption.

  5. Can I say murderous vengeful people suck?

  6. How horrible! Does this lead one to think that there have been no improvements in the criminal justice system? No culling out of death squads?
    No setbacks to corrupt, brutal cops and military personnel?

    Is nothing changing for the better?

    Are other judges still trying to stop police violence and corruption?

    What is it all about? Making money, I'd guess, and maintaining power and control.

  7. I read this when it first went up. I was angry then. I'm still angry. I'd hate to think that assassination works. Again. May God have mercy on your wonderful country if it does.