Sebastiao Rodrigues de Moura

27.04.2016 ( Last modified: 20.02.2018 )
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Sebastiao Rodrigues de Moura was born on 15 December 1934 in Sao Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil.

During the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964-1985), Rodrigues de Moura allegedly was the chief of the military intelligence in the fight against rebels. He allegedly used information obtained from rebels under torture.

Rodrigues de Moura took a specialized class on the techniques of Jungle warfare, organized by the army. During the years 1960-1970, he was responsible for the Amazonian State of Para, where he put in place a military intelligence unit in order to annihilate the Araguaia guerrilla. He was known under the codename of “Marco Antonio Luchini”. One of his techniques was to sell food and armaments to itinerant merchants, knowing these armaments were destined to the rebels. This enabled him to gain the confidence of those merchants, who then permitted him to localize guerrilla camps.

Rodrigues de Moura allegedly abducted and tortured many activists during the repression against the Araguaia guerrilla. Their fate is still unknown today. He is also suspected of having participated in the massacre of 41 combatants.

On 14 March 2012, seven prosecutors of the working group “Transitional Justice” who were working on the crimes committed during the military regime, launched criminal proceedings against colonel Rodrigues de Moura for the enforced disappearance of 5 activists between January and September 1974.

legal procedure

On 14 March 2012, seven prosecutors of the working group “Transitional Justice” who were working on the crimes committed during the military regime, launched criminal proceedings against colonels Sebastiao Rodrigues de Moura and Licio Augusto Maciel for the enforced disappearance of 5 activists between January and September 1974: Maria Célia Corrêa, Hélio Luiz Navarro Magalhães, Daniel Ribeiro Callado, Antônio de Pádua Costa and Telma Regina Cordeira Corrêa. According to the prosecutors, this complaint was based on the proceeding of criminal investigation opened in 2009 by the Marabá Office of the Prosecutor.

It is the first time that such proceedings are undertaken in Brazil, where an amnesty law is in force since 1979, before the democracy was established . In December 2010, this law, which has already protected many members of the army involved in the dictatorship, has been declared invalid by the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, because it was incompatible with the American Convention on Human Rights. It was however not repealed by Brazil.

The criminal proceedings were launched in the city of Maraba, in the amazonian State of Para, where the Araguaia guerilla was acting in the years 1970. Rodrigues de Moura is charged with the abduction of five activists during the repression against the Araguaia guerilla in 1974, still missing to date.

According to a statement of the prosecutor, those five activists abducted by Rodriguez de Moura’s troops were sent to military bases where they were mentally and physically tortured before they disappeared.

The prosecutor said that the offences of sequestration and occultation of corpses were not covered by the amnesty law, given that they are permanent crimes still being committed today. Indeed, according to them, so long as the victim does not reappear (dead or alive), the abduction is still being committed and, so long as their authors refuse to tell where the bodies have been buried, they are still committing the offence of occultation of corpses. It is on this basis that the complaint has been brought, despite the amnesty law which covers crimes committed until the 15 August 1979.

However, on 16 March 2012, the federal justice of the State of Para rejected that argument, saying that “wanting, after more than three decades, to get out of the amnesty law to reopen the discussion about crimes committed during the dictatorship is a mistake which not only has no legal support, but also does not take into account the historical circumstances which, in a great effort of national reconciliation, led to this amnesty”. It thus rejected the charges brought against Rodrigues de Moura.

The case was eventually reopened when, on 31 August 2012, a federal judge of Para accepted the prosecution’s argument according to which the 1979 Amnesty law does not cover permanent crimes such as enforced disappearances.


Rodrigues de Moura is the first person indicted for crimes committed under the military dictatorship in Brazil.



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 voter 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.