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|Date||2 October 1992|
The Carandiru massacre (Massacre do Carandiru, Portuguese pronunciation: [mɐˈsakɾi du kɐɾɐ̃dʒiˈɾu]) took place on Friday, 2 October 1992, in Carandiru Penitentiary in São Paulo, Brazil, when military police stormed the penitentiary following a prison riot. The massacre, which left 111 prisoners dead, is considered a major human rights violation in the history of Brazil.
The massacre was triggered by a prisoner revolt. Around 1:30 p.m., two groups got into a fight after a game of football; the fight quickly escalated into a prison riot. Due to the fact that 15 guards had to keep 2,069 prisoners in check they quickly lost control of the prisoners. Around 14:15 p.m. the prison director, Dr José Ismael Pedrosa, informed the local military police Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo about the uprising, they had been passed full command of the prison when arriving around 14:30 p.m. Though the director wanted to negotiate with the prisoners by a megaphone, he was held back by his staff since the police almost crushed him. Eleven hours later 111 prisoners were dead; ballistic evidence implicated that 515 bullets were found in the prisoners. Furthermore, gunshot wounds were mainly found in the face, head, throat and chest. Hands among the dead were found in front of the face or behind the head suggesting defensive positions. All in all research suggests that many prisoners were, defenceless and on purpose, extrajudicially executed.
The commanding officer of the operation, Colonel Ubiratan Guimarães, was initially sentenced to 632 years in prison for his mishandling of the rebellion and the subsequent massacre. He was in charge of the special police unit ROTA that is known for having an aggressive approach to civil disturbance. On 16 February 2006, a Brazilian court voided Guimarães' conviction because of mistrial claims; the court accepted his argument that he was only following orders. Guimarães, who was also a member of the São Paulo state legislature, was assassinated in September 2006. Although not entirely sure, his death appears to be the result of his role in the massacre. Another direct result of Brazils police brutality and subsequently deadliest prison riot was the unification of prisoners. One of Brazil's most notorious gangs the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) is said to have formed in 1993 as a response to the event. The surviving gang members joined forces with other prisoners to provide protection against police brutality. This group is believed to be responsible for the death of José Ismael Pedrosa, director of the prison at the time. After years of national and international pressure the prison was demolished on 9 December 2002, the former complex has been transformed into a park.
In April 2013, 23 policemen involved in the massacre were sentenced to 156 years in prison each for the killing of 13 inmates. In August 2013 a further 25 policemen involved in the massacre were sentenced to 624 years each for the deaths of 52 inmates. In April 2014, a further 15 policemen were sentenced to 48 years. Although the UN urged Brazil to bring justice to those most effected by the slaughter on September 2016, the court declared the trial on Carandiru massacre null. The court judged that the massacre was an act of self-defence and that there was a lack of evidence to link the individual officers to the individual killings. Consequently, the prosecutor is initiating an appeal and the process is still in full swing.