Sat, May 05, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Brazil dictatorship burned militants’ bodies: ex-agent

AFP, BRASILIA

A self-confessed former death squad agent will soon release his memoirs with revelations about his role in the execution of leftist militants during Brazil’s military dictatorship, publishers said on Thursday.

Claudio Guerra, a former operative of Brazil’s notorious secret police agency DOPS, related his experiences to journalists Rogerio Medeiros and Marcelo Netto for Memories of a Dirty War, expected on Rio bookshelves today.

“At a particular moment of the war against enemies of the regime, we discussed what to do with the bodies of those who had been eliminated. This was at the end of 1973,” he said in the memoir, excerpts of which were published on the IG news Web site.

Guerra, 71, recounted that 10 leftist militants — including then-Communist Party leaders Luiz Ignacio Maranhao Filho and Joao Massena Mello — were incinerated in the furnace of a sugar factory owned by Rio State’s deputy governor at the time.

The former operative disclosed that he personally took part in the failed bomb attack on the Riocentro Pavilion during a 1981 Workers’ Day concert in Rio and named the two counter-insurgency officers who led the operation.

The attack, conducted covertly by DOPS agents who intended to blame it on leftist insurgents, went wrong when one of the bombs exploded on the lap of a military agent.

Guerra also contradicted the official version of the death of former DOPS director Sergio Paranhos Fleury.

Fleury, famous for his cruel torture methods, officially died on his boat in 1979, but Guerra said top military brass ordered his killing, because he was no longer obeying orders.

The one-time secret police chief was responsible for the 1969 ambush killing in Sao Paulo of Carlos Marighella, the Marxist revolutionary and writer who authored the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla.

“This man relates atrocities that traumatized families of the missing. The government must intervene and call on him to testify to know if he is telling the truth,” said Victoria Grabois, head of rights group Torture Never Again.

Publisher Topbooks said Guerra’s name does not appear on any lists established by leftist groups because he never used torture. “His mission was to kill,” it added.

The daily O Globo newspaper said Guerra was implicated in dozens of murders, such as the bomb attack against a gambling syndicate operative and the presumed murder of his wife and sister-in-law in 1980.

He repented while in detention and became an evangelical pastor.

Unlike other South American countries ruled by right-wing dictatorships that committed political abuses and killings from the 1960s to 1980s — Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile — Brazil has never put the perpetrators on trial.

A 1979 amnesty law, upheld by the Brazilian Supreme Court in 2010, paved the way for the return of political exiles, but also protected the perpetrators of -dictatorship-era crimes.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla jailed and tortured during the 1964 to 1985 dictatorship, has endorsed the creation of a truth panel to probe rights

Brazil officially recognizes 400 dead and missing during the military dictatorship, compared with 30,000 in Argentina and more than 3,200 in Chile.

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