By: Rafael Sbeghen Freitas
Impunity Watch Staff Writer
BELÉM, Brazil – On June 16th, 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights submitted to the IDH Court the 12,398 case of Brazil, regarding the extrajudicial execution of teenagers Max Cley Mendes, Marciley Roseval Melo Mendes, and Luís Fábio Coutinho da Silva, during a slaughter that took place on December 13th, 1994 and became to be known as “The Massacre of Tapanã.”
The accusation reports that the Military Police officers received orders from higher authorities to locate and apprehend the murderers of Military Police Corporal Waldemar Paes Nunes, who had been a victim of robbery-murder moments earlier in an area nearby the “Tapanã Highway” in Belém, Pará. The information indicated that the perpetrators of the corporal’s murder had also stolen his firearm. The officers took police vehicles to carry out the order and brought with them the victim’s property caretaker as a witness, who had allegedly seen the corporal being murdered after his weapon was stolen.
According to court records, the police officers reportedly spotted Max Cley Mendes, Marciley Rosenaldo Melo Mendes, and Luiz Fabio Coutinho da Silva, who were recognized by the witness as the perpetrators of the robbery-murder that claimed the corporal’s life. After being approached, the suspects were handcuffed and executed. Eyewitnesses reported that four young individuals were apprehended: two of them were handcuffed and executed even before they entered the police vehicle and the other two had apparently tried to escape into the nearby wooded area, but were also executed after a pursuit.
The trial of the seventeen accused policemen happened only twenty four hours after, and resulted in the acquittal of all of them based on lack of evidence. The prosecutor did not appeal the decision.
Historically, in Brazil, the violent use of police force evolved from being a means of political control during the military dictatorship into a tool for social control, particularly in the context of managing criminality in the current days. The country still struggles to maintain civilian control of the military police and the military itself, notoriously being unable to properly investigate, prosecute and discipline the majority of crimes committed by those forces.
In that context, the Commission determined that the State violated the victims’ right to life and personal integrity and concluded that the operation did not adhere to the appropriate regulations for the use of force, and the agents failed to apply the criteria of necessity and proportionality. It was also stated that these events occurred within a context of state permissiveness towards police abuses and that the victims had endured torture prior to their execution.
The Brazilian state was notified of the filing on September 25th, and now has the opportunity to present a countercharge.
For further information, please see: