Justice upholds Carandiru prison massacre convictions amid amnesty attempt

upholds Carandiru massacre convictions
Justice Luís Roberto Barroso. Photo: Carlos Moura/SCO/STF

Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Luís Roberto Barroso decided to uphold the convictions of the military police officers responsible for the Carandiru massacre in 1992, the deadliest case of prison violence in Brazil’s recent history.

The decision comes amid an attempt by the House to pass a sweeping amnesty for the police officers involved. The proposal has already gained approval from the Public Security Committee, dominated by pro-Bolsonaro members of the so-called “bullet caucus.” The measure still needs to pass through other committees as well as a floor vote.

In October of 1992, inmates of the Carandiru prison in São Paulo staged a riot that was brutally quelled by law enforcement, with 111 men killed in just 30 minutes. The officers claimed self-defense, but the murdered men were unarmed and many had bullet wounds in the back of their heads, a clear sign of execution.

The incident is believed to have been one of the factors that led to the creation of the Primeiro Comando do Capital (PCC) organized crime group, founded in a São Paulo prison one year later.

The case has dragged on for years in court, with decisions in favor and against the police. Their defense alleges that it is not possible for them to be held accountable for conduct that was not carried out individually, but as a group.