Confessed Brazilian Torturer Found Murdered

by

At approximately four o’clock this past Thursday afternoon, Paulo Malhaes, a retired officer who served in the ‘70s during the years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, was murdered at his small farm outside of Rio de Janeiro.

Malhaes had become infamous in recent weeks, as I wrote in this space recently [1], for his lurid testimony before the Brazilian Truth Commission, where he described in graphic detail how the bodies of opponents of the repressive regime had been disappeared after being killed under torture.

According to news reports, Malhaes, his wife and a house mate, in some reports described as a valet, had arrived at the farm around two p.m. and were confronted by three intruders already in their home.  The wife, Cristina Malhaes, and the house mate, later identified by police only as Rui, were restrained and led off into one room, while the former lieutenant colonel was taken to another.

Cristina and Rui were later released unharmed as the assailants departed the scene by car.  Neither of the survivors reported having heard a sound to suggest the Malhaes had been worked over or “tortured.” But when police examined Malhaes’ body Friday morning they found marks on his face and neck, and have tentatively concluded that he died from asphyxiation.  The only items the murderers removed from the premises were a computer, a printer, and several weapons that had belonged to the victim.

The announcement of Paulo Malhaes’ murder, reported in front pages all over Brazil, has sent shock waves through the country, including among surviving junta participants. The big question being debated is which side did him in.

It’s certainly conceivable that a victim of the dictatorship, or a relative of someone who was disappeared, might have orchestrated Malhaes’s death in an act of vengeance long delayed.  But this hypothesis is being given little credence, as is an alternative theory that Malhaes’ demise occurred in the course of a simple robbery unrelated to his notoriety.

The head of the Sao Paulo Municipal Truth Commission, Gilberto Natalini, suggested uncontroversially that Malhaes’ assassination “demonstrates that this page of Brazilian history has not yet been completely turned.”

His counterpart on the Rio de Janeiro Truth Commission, Wadih Damous, offers a darker theory, saying,  “In my opinion, the murder of colonel Paulo Malhaes was an act of witness elimination.  He was an important agent of political repression during the dictatorship, and a repository of information on what actually took place behind the scenes in that era.”

“He still had a lot to say,” agreed the former Minister of Human Rights, Maria do Rosario, “and could have been seen as a threat.  True, he had already told what happened, but he didn’t reveal who did it.”

One Brazilian senator, Randolfe Rodrigues, speculated on how far those still operating in the “shadow of the dictatorship” might be willing to go “to erase the past.”  He warned that the members of the various truth commissions had better start looking to their own security.

Michael Uhl is the author of  Vietnam Awakening. This piece first appeared in This Can’t Be Happening.

Michael Uhl is the author of  Vietnam Awakening

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”