Justice Minister to address House on police brutality and Dom Phillips disappearance

Justice Minister police brutality Dom Phillips
Anderson Torres, Brazil’s Justice Minister, during a March meeting with indigenous leaders in Brasília. Photo: José Cruz/ABr

Brazilian Justice Minister Anderson Torres will face lawmakers on Wednesday in a session about the killing of Genivaldo de Jesus Santos — a black, poor, and mentally ill man — by Federal Highway Police officers in the northeastern state of Sergipe. 

The murder, which was filmed by bystanders and posted online, happened on May 25. 

After a routine stop-and-search, the officers immobilized Mr. Santos and threw him in the trunk of a squad car filled with pepper spray and tear gas. Footage shows officers holding the trunk door closed while the man continued screaming. He died of tear gas asphyxiation. 

While the case sparked an outcry against police brutality, protests were few and far between.

House Speaker Arthur Lira nullified a congressional subpoena for Mr. Torres to appear before Congress, but the minister announced on Twitter that he will attend the sitting regardless.

It is likely Mr. Torres will also be asked about the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, as anticipated by Congresswoman Vivi dos Reis, a member of the House’s Human Rights Committee, on Twitter.

Reports from local media on Wednesday afternoon say that one of the suspects held in connection with the disappearance has confessed to killing Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, but neither the police nor indigenous patrols have confirmed this.

Opposition lawmakers are also likely to ask questions about far-right blogger Allan dos Santos, who on Saturday attended a motorcycle rally in Orlando with supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro — who was also at the event. Mr. Santos has an arrest order against him and is a fugitive in Brazil.