The federal judge Paulo Cesar Morais Espírito Santo, from the First Specialized Section of the Federal Regional Court of the 2nd Region (TRF2) accepted, this Monday (27), the appeal of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) to change the sentence of the Federal Justice, making Army sergeant Antonio Waneir Pinheiro de Lima a defendant. The military man was accused of, in 1971, kidnapping, keeping in private prison and raping Inês Etienne Romeu in the so-called “House of Death”, in Petrópolis, in the mountainous region of Rio. The site was a clandestine detention center during the military dictatorship.
In 2017, Antonio Waneir had been summarily acquitted of the crimes of torture and rape. The magistrate of the 1st Criminal Court of Petrópolis understood that the defendant “was supported by the Amnesty Law”. With the decision, the criminal action returns to the first instance and is processed again.
In the vote, the judge of the TRF2 voted “in the sense of granting the appeal of the MPF to reform the sentence handed down by the court of 1st instance, removing the summary acquittal of the defendant due to the extinction of punishment under the Amnesty, granted by law and determine the continuation of the torture and rape action in the House of Death”.
During the trial of the Public Ministry’s appeal, TR2 recalled that Brazil cannot grant amnesty for crimes against humanity. And even though the Amnesty Law (Law No. 6683 of 1979), although declared constitutional by the Federal Supreme Court, violates provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR), to which Brazil is a signatory.
“[…] the Rome Statute, to which Brazil is also a signatory, establishes that crimes against humanity are not covered by prescription or amnesty and noted that, as a result of this agreement, Law No. that instituted the National Truth Commission”, explained, at the time, federal judge Simone Schreiber.
A member of the VAR-Palmares organization, which fought against the military regime (1964 – 1985), and who died in 2015 of natural causes, Inês Etienne is recognized as the only survivor of the so-called House of Death.
According to the process, Inês Etienne Romeu was taken by force and kept for six months in the Casa da Morte, until she was transferred, in November 1971, to the Talavera Bruce Women’s Prison, in Bangu, west of Rio, where she remained until 1979, when it was released.