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Former members of military dictatorship charged in murder of journalist Vladimir Herzog after 45 years

After 45 years, on March 16, federal prosecutors in Brazil charged former members of the military dictatorship for involvement in the death of journalist Vladimir Herzog.

Herzog was journalism director of the network TV Cultura and in charge of the television program “Hora da Notícia” when he was killed on Oct. 25, 1975.

The night before his death, authorities seized the channel and demanded Herzog accompany them for interrogation, according to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He appeared voluntarily the next day and was interrogated and tortured.

At the time, officials classified his death as a suicide, which his family always contested.

According to federal prosecutors, the murder cannot prescribe, meaning there is no deadline for which it can be prosecuted. It also said it is not subjected to amnesty “since it was committed in the context of a systematic and generalized attack by the Brazilian State against the civilian population.”

Those charged by prosecutors include José Barros Paes, then-chief of command of the 2nd Section of the General Staff of the II Army; Audir Santos Maciel, commander of the Posting of Operations and Information; Altair Casadei, unit agent. Also named were coroners Harry Shibata and Arildo de Toledo. Retired military prosecutor Durval Moura Araújo was also included.

In March 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned Brazil for negligence in investigating and prosecuting the case.

The court said Herzog was deprived of his liberty, interrogated, tortured and murdered “in a systematic and generalized context of attacks against the civilian population considered as ‘opposition’ to the Brazilian dictatorship, and, in particular, against journalists and members of the Brazilian Communist Party.”

Following the announcement of federal prosecutors in the country, the Vladimir Herzog Institute wrote on Twitter, “Our expectation now is that the Brazilian judiciary immediately accepts the complaint from the MPF [prosecutors] and the accused can be brought to trial, putting an end to these 45 years of impunity.

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