Inocêncio Fabrício De Matos Beltrão

09.05.2016 ( Last modified: 20.02.2018 )


Inocêncio Fabrício De Matos Beltrão served as a Major in the Brazilian military during the dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

The murder of Virgílio Gomes da Silva is considered to be the first of 136 assassinations of dissidents during the military dictatorship. Gomes da Silva was a trade unionist and important figure in the resistance movement. He had participated in the abduction of back then Ambassador of the United States Charles Burke Elbrick from 4 to 7 September 1969.

Gomes da Silva was arrested in the morning of 29 September 1969 in São Paulo and brought to a military prison where he was tortured. He was left hung on an iron bar, hands and feet tied together and severely beaten. He died of his injuries the same evening. His corpse was found later in a waste land in São Paulo. However the authorities considered him to be disappeared and his mortal remains have not been entirely localized until today.


Legal Procedure

The Public Prosecutor’s Department of the State of São Paulo filed an accusation on 27 November 2015 naming Inocêncio Fabrício De Matos Beltrão and his subordinates Homero Cesaro Machado, Mauricio Lopes Lima and João Thomaz as responsible for the torture and subsequent killing of Gomes da Silva as well as for the concealment of his death. The two prosecutors identified ten more suspects that are already dead.

According to the Prosecution the murder of Gomes da Silva amounts to a crime against humanity. It was part of a comprehensive and systematic attack against the civil population containing repressions, intrusions into private life, abductions, torture, killings and forced disappearances. As such it neither falls under the statute of limitation nor under the amnesty law from 1979.

It is now upon the competent judge to decide whether to open proceedings and summon the accused.




In 1964, a military dictatorship was established in Brazil by a coup. The military junta remained in power until 1985.

In the years 1970, the Brazilian government joined Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia, all governed by dictatorial regimes and all controlled by the CIA, to coordinate their efforts in order to eliminate political opponents, regularly subjecting them to torture. In that context of persecutions, violence was used in a systematical way to exterminate the “communist world”.

This plan, called “Operation Condor”, operated in three major ways: the activities of political monitoring of dissident political refugees and people in exile, secret counter-insurrectional actions and joint actions of extermination directed against specific groups or individuals, for which special teams of killers operating in and outside the borders were formed (also in Europe and the United States). The opponents were placed in clandestine detention centers.

As from 1964, many revolutionary groups organize resistance against the military power in Brazil. Most of them are formed in student circles, such as the ALN (Action for National Liberation) or the MR-8 (Revolutionary Movement of 8 October). Those two groups condemn the American support to the military dictatorships in Latin America and they participate in various guerilla actions.


On 18 November 2011, the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, herself formerly tortured and detained for three years under the military junta, passed a law creating a Truth Commission to investigate hundreds of allegations of torture and of enforced disappearances committed under the military junta.

However, this Truth Commission does not have the power to condemn anybody since the military are still protected by an amnesty law voted in 1979, granting impunity for all crimes committed before 1979. The High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations strongly criticized the persistence of this law.

In November 2010, in the case Gomes Lund, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights said that the amnesty law was not compatible with the American Convention on Human Rights, that it did not have any juridical effect and that it should not constitute anymore an obstacle to investigations, trials of persons allegedly involved in human rights violation and to the condemnation of those found guilty. This law is however still in force in Brazil.


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