Police Find Body of Wife of Former Federal Budget Director
BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) _ Police charged a former federal budget director Sunday with murdering his wife so that she wouldn’t expose a massive corruption scandal involving him.
The scandal involving a plan by high-ranking officials to steal millions in tax revenues came to light anyway, and has embroiled Brazilian politics for weeks.
Jose Carlos Alves dos Santos, who has been in jail for a month on suspicion of murdering his wife, tried to commit suicide Sunday, police said. His injuries were not life-threatening, a hospital official said.
After Ana Elizabeth Lofrano dos Santos disappeared in 1992, dos Santos told police that they had been on their way home from dinner when two men in a car stopped them and kidnapped her. He had claimed she was being held for ransom.
But on Sunday, police found the buried corpse of Mrs. dos Santos in Brazlandia, 36 miles from Brasilia.
Police said they were led to her grave by a private detective and a mechanic hired by dos Santos to murder his wife before she could denounce his crimes.
Private detective Lindauro Silva told police dos Santos paid him $100,000 to murder his wife, said Col. Jaime Brochado, the secretary of law enforcement of the federal district.
Silva and the mechanic, identified by police as Waldir de Souza, told reporters they placed Mrs. dos Santos in front of an open grave, hit her on the head with a stick and buried her, possibly while she was still alive. Their account was carried by TV Globo, the country’s largest private network.
It was not clear whether de Souza received any money. He claimed he was afraid and tried to refuse to participate, but was threatened and gave in.
Dos Santos, 63, was charged with murder and Silva and de Souza were being held on investigation of murder, pending charges, police said.
A prosecutor said last week that dos Santos should be released for lack of evidence.
While searching for Mrs. dos Santos in mid-October, federal police found more than $1 million in cash at the dos Santos’ home.
At that point, dos Santos named 34 public officials, past and present, including 24 senators and deputies, as participants in a scam to steal millions of dollars in tax revenues.
Dos Santos told authorities that the creation of fictitious charities helped lawmakers steal funds destined for social programs, and bribes were taken to grant lucrative government construction contracts.
Early Sunday, dos Santos tried to commit suicide in his Brazilia cell by hanging himself, taking barbiturates and slashing his wrists, police said.
He was rushed to a hospital, and in the ambulance he grabbed a police agent’s revolver and tried to shoot himself, police said. It was taken away from him.
Dos Santos’ injuries were not life-threatening, said Lairson Vilar, director of the hospital where dos Santos was taken.