Men sentenced for burning Brazilian Indian chief
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) -- A Brazilian court judge sentenced four young men
Saturday to 14 years in prison apiece after a jury found them guilty of killing
an Indian chief by setting him on fire as he lay on a bench.
Judge Sandra de Santis announced the sentence after five of the seven jurors
agreed the crime was intentional homicide with a cruel and infamous motive,
Adriana Jobim, spokeswoman of the Federal District Justice Court, told The
Max Rogerio Alves, Tomas Oliveira de Almeida, Eron Chaves de Oliveira and
Antonio Novely Cardoso poured alcohol on Pataxo Indian chief Galdino Jesus dos
Santos and then tossed a lighted match as he lay on a bench at a bus stop in 1997.
Dos Santos had been in Brasilia, the capital, to push for legal recognition
tribe's traditional lands in northeastern Brazil. He was sleeping on the bench because
he had been locked out of his boarding house. Dos Santos died with burns over 95
percent of his body.
The young men, all teen- at the time of the crime, have been jailed for
four years already. They will have to spend at least four more years in prison
before being eligible for release for good behavior, Jobim said.
The jury rejected defen se arguments that the crime was a bodily injury
death and that the men didn't mean to kill dos Santos. Once the sentence is
published in the official gazette, expected on Monday or Tuesday, the defense has
five days to appeal.
Brazil's media followed the trial with special attention after prosecutor
Miranda dropped the case two weeks ago, claiming she had received threats from
family members of the accused and justice officials. Prosecutor Mauricio Miranda
then took over the case.
Hundreds of native Indians had gathered outside the Brasilia court since
demand a maximum 30-year punishment for the four men who come from
prosperous middle-class families. The hate crime had shocked residents of Brasilia,
a city previously known to be relatively calm for Brazilian standards.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.