Brazil: Against the criminalization of the struggle for land: Four young people arrested in Rondônia are acquitted.

Hereby we publish an unofficial translation on an article published in the website of the Brazilian Center for Solidarity with the Peoples (CEBRASPO).

The MPF [Federal Public Ministry] considered the evidence against the four young peasants from Rondônia, who participated in the seizure of Fazenda Santa Elina, the scene of the Battle of Corumbiara, in 1995, “dubious and contradictory”.

The Federal Public Ministry considered the evidence against the four young peasants from Rondônia “dubious and contradictory”. The activists participated in the seizure of Fazenda Santa Elina, the scene of the Battle of Corumbiara, and had been arrested by the Rondônia Police on May 14, 2021, accused of illegally carrying a weapon and also carrying radio transmitters during an illegal operation against the camp. At the time, the League of Poor Peasants characterized the arrest as political persecution, denouncing that the only source for the legal process were testimonies from military police officers.

At the time, the Rondônia MP was led by José Hélio Cysneiros Pachá (known as “the butcher of Santa Elina”) chosen by the Bolsonarist governor, Colonel Marcos Rocha. Popular movements and lawyers denounced that the Rondônia government’s intentions were to repress and take revenge on the peasant struggle and those activists who participated in the historic Manoel Ribeiro Camp.

Lawyers association gives details of acquittal

The Brazilian Association of People’s Lawyers Gabriel Pimenta (Abrapo) stated that the Federal Public Ministry corroborated the defense’s theses, considering the evidence against the young people to be doubtful and contradictory, and decided to acquit the four activists (three peasants and a UNIR student).

Abrapo further explains that when analyzing the evidence, the MPF and the Federal Criminal Court ridiculed the evidence of the act (carrying a weapon and carrying radio communicators). The defense denounced that the weapon found with the four was an act forged by the police with the aim of criminalizing the struggle for land, but it had not been analyzed by the judiciary. In addition to ignoring the illegality of the fact that the only witnesses heard were the police officers themselves, the weapon that was allegedly in the possession of one of the activists was used to convict the activists in State Court.

With the MPF’s new understanding, it will be possible to question the conviction, requesting a criminal review, which Abrapo considers “quite promising”.

The note ends by stating that “this is an important victory for the collective struggle, for the people’s lawyers, for Abrapo, for Cebraspo, for the newspaper AND, and for all the supporters of the fight for land for those who live and work on it”.

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