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Lawsuit vs. Rousseff Torturers

November 6, 2010

Torturers of New Brazilian President Face Lawsuit

Although Brazil’s Supreme Court has upheld the nation’s 1979 amnesty law pardoning civilian and military personnel for crimes committed during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship, prosecutors there have argued that the amnesty does not prevent lawsuits for damages under civil law. Last Thursday, according to Bradley Brooks in The Canadian Press, they filed civil lawsuits against four agents who have been accused of killings and kidnappings – among them former army Captain Mauricio Lopes Lima, who prosecutors claim was responsible for the torture of new President-elect Dilma Rousseff in the 1970’s.
            Bradley reports that “The prosecutors seek a “declaration of civil responsibility” against the four, along with an end to their military pensions, restitution to society and help in compensating the alleged victims.”

            “A spokesman with the prosecutors office, who talked on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the case in detail, said it was not clear if Lima tortured Rousseff himself or ordered subordinates to do so…
            “After three years underground, Rousseff was captured by Brazil’s military police and was considered a big enough catch that a military prosecutor labeled her the “Joan of Arc” of the guerrilla movement. She spent nearly three years in the Tiradentes prison, where she was beaten to the point of heavy bleeding, underwent electric shocks and spent hours on the “parrot’s perch” — a painful position involving tying wrists to ankles, then suspending a prisoner off the ground by running a pole under their knees and over their biceps.
            “Rousseff rarely discusses this period of her life…”

According to Wikipedia, the “parrot’s perch” torture is specifically identified with the Brazilian military and police: “This technique is believed to originate from Portuguese slave traders, which used Pau de arara as a form of punishment for disobedient slaves. Its usage has been more recently widespread by the agents of the political police of the Brazilian military dictatorship against political dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s and it still believed to be in use by Brazilian police forces, although outlawed. The device was often used as a restraint for a combination of other torture techniques, such as water boarding, nail pulling, branding, electric shocks, and sexual torture.” It is memorialized in this monument against torture, in Recife, Brazil.

(If ordering books or DVDs discussed in this blog from Amazon, please consider doing so through our website, which will help to support the work of The Refuge Media Project. To find out more about or order Torture in Brazil, click on the book cover illustration above to be redirected to our site.)

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