Prosecutors say murder of Lula supporter was “clearly” politically motivated

murder Fears political violence grow
Marcelo Arruda, a treasurer for the Workers’ Party, was murdered this past weekend — raising fears around political violence in Brazil. Photo: Christian Rizzi /Fotoarena/Folhapress

The Paraná state prosecution office requested the indictment of penitentiary officer Jorge Guaranho for aggravated murder. On July 9, he shot dead Marcelo Arruda, a municipal guard, who was throwing a Lula-themed birthday party.

Prosecutors say the crime had a “futile” motivation stemming from political disagreements, which is an aggravator for murder under Brazilian law. However, the indictment request does not characterize the murder as a hate crime or an attempt against the rule of law.

According to prosecutors, it is “clear” that the crime had political motivations, but the Constitution does not allow it to be defined as such.

Police investigators say Mr. Guaranho was at a barbecue in Foz do Iguaçu, a city in southern Brazil, when he learned that a Lula-themed party was taking place at a nearby social club. Mr. Arruda, who was celebrating his 50th birthday, is a member of the Workers’ Party.

After a first brawl at the party’s entrance, Mr. Guaranho returned, this time shooting Mr. Arruda. The victim fired back and hit the gunman but suffered fatal wounds. The aggressor remains in the hospital.

The Paraná police department came under heavy scrutiny after it concluded that there was not enough evidence to support that the murder had political motivations. 

A court determined that the investigation had not been thoroughly carried out and ordered detectives to resume their work — including by analyzing data from the attacker’s cell phone and footage from security cameras along the path he traveled until the attack site.

“We hope that this landmark case will serve to contain this escalation of political violence the country has experienced,” prosecutor Luís Marcelo Mafra said, in a press conference.