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New Book Revives Debate on Bombings During Brazil’s Military Regime

March 20, 1996

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ A book that blames Brazil’s military for terrorist bombings has sparked demands for new investigations and rankled members of the top brass.

The book, which appeared in stores Monday, asserts that a right-wing faction of the armed forces carried out the bombings during the 1964 to 1985 dictatorship.

``The Explosive Right in Brazil″ by Luiz Alberto Fortunato is based on statements by his father, retired Col. Alberto Carlos Fortunato, who says that he and several other officers began plotting bombings and other political attacks as early as 1962.

Alberto Carlos Fortunato says the group was responsible for a letter bomb at the Brazilian Bar Association in August 1980 that killed secretary Lyda Monteiro and blinded another employee. One man was detained and released shortly after the attack, and a military court later shelved the case.

Luiz Alberto Fortunato writes that his father also plotted to assassinate former President Gen. Ernesto Geisel, seen by extremists in the military as a traitor for beginning a gradual transition toward civilian rule in the late 1970s.

A decade after the junta stepped down, the allegations still rankle the military.

On Monday, Army Minister Gen. Zenildo de Lucena banned all military personnel from commenting on the book or the Bar Association bombing.

``That case was judged and closed by the Superior Military Tribunal and the army has no reason to comment on it,″ said an army press officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But Justice Minister Nelson Jobim said the investigation into the bombing ``will be reopened if there is a need for it.″

Another book denouncing the involvement of at least four generals and five colonels in 32 bomb attacks _ 12 of which claimed victims _ is scheduled for release March 28.

That book, ``Riocentro: Who Was Responsible for the Impunity,″ was written by retired Adm. Julio de Sa Bierrenbach, a member of the military court that closed the investigation into a 1981 bombing at the Riocentro convention hall that killed one person and wounded another.

Bierrenbach, 76, who voted to keep the case open, writes that the same group of right-wing extremists that bombed the Bar Association were behind the Riocentro explosion.

He says that bomb went off by accident inside a car used by the repressive Department of Internal Order outside the convention center.

Bierrenbach writes that Col. Job Lorena de Sant’Anna, who headed the Riocentro investigation, ``put on a show″ to try to convince the public that the officers were victims of a bombing carried out by leftist subversives.

On Tuesday, Luiz Felipe Dias, the son of the Bar Association secretary and a Rio lawyer, telephoned President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to ask him to order another investigation into the case.

``With the president’s help, the mystery surrounding the Bar Association attack and the Riocentro bombing can be cleared up,″ he said. ``It’s a matter of justice, of reinforcing democracy.″

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