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Ex-Cop Convicted in Slum Massacre

November 29, 1997

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ A former police officer was convicted Friday in the massacre of 21 slum residents and was sentenced to 441 years in prison, but he will only have to serve 30 years.

The jury convicted Arlindo Maginario Filho on 20 counts of murder and four of attempted murder.

Maginario Filho is the second of 51 police officers accused of taking part in the August 29, 1993 massacre in the Vigario Geral slum on Rio’s poor north side.

Shortly before midnight, unmarked cars sped into the slum and hooded men poured out, firing seemingly at random with automatic weapons. One tossed a grenade into an open-air bar, while others burst into a house and gunned down eight members of a family.

Many believe the raid was in retaliation for the killings a day earlier of four Rio de Janeiro state troopers, allegedly by drug dealers.

In August, former officer Paulo Roberto Alvarenga was sentenced to 450 years for his part in the massacre.

But, as in Maginario Filho’s case, he will only have to serve a total of 30 years because in Brazil that’s the maximum term a prisoner can be held.

Among the 11 witnesses, the key was former police informer Ivan Custodio, who testified that Maginario Filho took part.

The defendant refused to testify, and his lawyer, Maurice Neville, said Maginario Filho was at home at the time of the killings.

Neville said his client would appeal the verdict.

Relatives of the victims commemorated the decision. Chief prosecutor Luciano Lessa called it a ``great victory for society against organized crime.″

But despite the banners and posters of protesters outside the downtown courthouse, interest in the trail has waned as the case dragged through Brazil’s notoriously slow legal system.

Ten more former police officers are to go to trial next week for the massacre, but no trial date has been set for the remaining defendants.

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