Trial of confessed defendant of the Massacre of Felisburgo scheduled in May

Friday, April 12, 2013

chafikBy Joana Tavares
Portal Minas Free

It was in November of 2004. Armed gunmen invaded the Promised Land Camp (Terra Prometida), in Felisburgo, in Jequitinhonha Valley, and killed five workers. Another twenty were seriously injured, and huts and crops burned. Nearly nine years later, accused of being the mastermind of the crime, Adriano Chafik, who publicly confessed to be present on the day of slaughter, will face his first jury. The trial, originally scheduled for January this year, has finally been re-scheduled for May 15 in Belo Horizonte.

According to Sílvio Netto, the State Director of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), the reason for the delay of nearly five months was a procedural problem to transfer the case from the district of Jequitinhonha. "But it has been more than eight years of waiting for justice, impunity for a defendant who confessed defendant to a crime of great repercussion," he says.

The MST argued for the trial to be held in Belo Horizonte, not in the district in Jequitinhonha, to avoid political pressures for acquittal. Besides Chafik, his cousin Calixto Luedy will be judged on the 15th, accused of being responsible for hiring the gunmen, for housing them in the city after the crime, and for setting up an escape scheme. The gunmen will be judged in Jequitinhonha alone. "In our assessment, the delay to reach justice has been so long, that when our attorneys were faced with the possibility of further delays to the trial when asking for unification, the Movement opted for the immediate trial of the main perpetrators." Sílvio explains.

Recently, accused of ordering the murder of an extractivist couple in Pará, José Rodrigues Moreira was acquitted by the jury, while two gunmen were sentenced. The 79 police officers involved in the Carandiru Massacre, which claimed the lives of 111 inmates, will be tried this month, 11 years after the crime. In Carajás, 19 workers were killed, 114 officers were incriminated, but only two commanders, Colonel Mario Pantoja and Colonel José Maria Pereira de Oliveira, were convicted.

"We have said that Justice takes sides, and she demonstrates daily that she is not on the workers’ side. She confronts us as much with maintaining a crime unpunished, as with taking the side of the farmers, the landowners, agribusiness in land conflicts, and also with acquitting defendants that were proven guilty of crimes against workers," Sílvio Netto points out. "What's going to secure the conviction, in the case of Felisburgo, is the ability to mobilize society. Even with all the evidence that Chafik is a murderer and was primarily responsible for the deaths, it will be the ability to mobilize and the indignation of the people that can guide the sentence" he adds.

The MST intends to organize an encampment for Justice for Felisburgo during the trial, expected to last at least three days. According Sívio Netto, a campaign is being organized with the participation of various civil society organizations to mobilize people in solidarity with the families camped, for the condemnation of Chafik, and in defense of agrarian reform.

On April 17, the date of the Massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás and International Day of Struggle for Land, there will be a plenary Campaign for Justice in Felisburgo in a venue that is yet to be confirmed. "We honor the dead of Carajás, demand justice for the massacre and trigger the campaign for Justice for Felisburgo with an invitation to the entire society to join us in this fight," he says.

See below the MST’s notes on the trial.

Justice is slow, and if it depends on the MST, it will not fail

Five Landless fell... But we march firmly ahead

The MST, after more than eight years of impunity for the Massacre of Felisburgo, hereby announces that the trial of the murderer and confessed defendant mastermind Adriano Chafick was officially called. The trial will take place from the 15th of May, 2013, in Belo Horizonte, reluctantly, for the defendant hoped the trial would be held in the county of Jequitinhonha, where he has greater economic and political power.

We workers, more than anyone, learned how painful waiting for justice was and still is, for we know that in addition to demanding justice for the brutal and cowardly crime that Adriano and his gunmen committed, keeping them free means a constant direct threat to our lives, for they have proven they are able to promote hell on Earth. As if left at liberty, the Latifundio receives carte blanche from the Brazilian State to continue as a death machine.

Over the last period, we created alongside the Committee for Justice for Felisburgo – a space composed of various sectors of society, various movements, in order to gain strength to make a popular condemnation of these killers. We denounce, and we repositioned our agenda at the center of debate in Minas Gerais. Now it’s the time to put into practice our determination, to organize ourselves and come together in Belo Horizonte in the days of the trial to make a large popular mobilization, bringing the mystique of this current indignation and letting it lead us in the path of Justice for Felisburgo, of Social Justice and Popular Sovereignty.