On 6th anniversary of Rio de Janeiro Councilwoman Marielle Franco’s murder, motive and mastermind remain unknown

By March 14, 2024

São Paulo, Brazil – On the sixth anniversary of the murder of Rio de Janeiro City Councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, supporters held an event on Thursday in front of the city’s government offices to honor the fallen politician and activist.

The demonstration was led by Marielle’s widow, Mônica Benício, and was attended by government officials including Minister of Racial Equality Anielle Franco, who is Marielle’s sister, as well as deputies from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s political base.

Marielle Franco was a prominent politician, feminist, and human rights activist. Franco championed the rights of minorities in Brazil including the Black and LGBTQ communities. She was also a staunch women’s rights defender and an outspoken critic of militarized police brutality across the country.

Franco and Gomes were shot dead on the night of March 14, 2018, in central Rio de Janeiro. The vehicle they were driving in was attacked by another car which fired dozens of bullets into their vehicle. The left-wing politician was hit by four bullets in the head and her driver suffered three shots in the back, fatally wounding them.

Demonstration marks 6 years of Marielle Franco’s murder (Tomaz Silva / Agência Brasil courtesy)

Four men have been arrested and jailed for their involvement in the crime, including former police officers Ronnie Lessa and Élcio Queiroz; former firefighter Maxwell Simões Corrêa; and businessman Edilson dos Santos.

According to investigators, Lessa fired the shots that killed Franco and Gomes while Queiroz drove the vehicle used in the attack.

Police said that Simões Corrêa’s was responsible for tracking Franco’s movements in the days leading up to the execution and providing details about her routine to Lessa and Queiroz. Meanwhile, businessman Edilson dos Santos is the owner of a scrapyard and was accused of destroying the vehicle used by the perpetrators. The trial date has not been set yet.

Despite the arrests, investigators have failed to determine a motive or a mastermind responsible for the killing after six years.

After the protest in front of the Rio de Janeiro City Council on Thursday, Franco’s widow vented her frustration.

“In addition to the sadness, there is still indignation at reaching the six-year mark of a murder like this without any response, which is to say that this type of violence is still accepted in our society with other Marielles,” she said.

Marielle’s widow, Mônica Benício, in a black T-shirt (social media)