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Brazil: Number of judges under threat has gone up

Associated Press Modified: July 2, 2012 at 4:48 pm •  Published: July 2, 2012
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Nearly a year after a judge was shot to death in front of her house, the number of Brazilian judges whose lives are threatened has gone up, the council that oversees the country's judiciary said Monday.

There are now 150 judges who have reported receiving threats, up from 136 when judge Patricia Acioli was slain last August, the National Council for Justice said. But only 61 of those judges are under state protection, it said.

Awareness of the danger facing judges was heightened by Acioli's killing. The judge had been given a police escort for a while because of threats, but she was no longer under protection when she was shot despite her repeated requests for police escort.

Acioli was allegedly shot by off-duty police officers who had been charged with committing murders.

In April, a judge ruled there was enough evidence to send seven of the 10 officers charged in her death to trial for allegedly killing a teenager in a shantytown. Acioli's last action before she was slain had been to order their arrest in the shantytown case.

Often, there are not enough resources to give Brazilian judges the protection they need.

Judge Jorge Viera, in the state of Para, started receiving threats in 2002 when he ordered the seizure of property belonging to a man charged with keeping workers in slave-like conditions. He asked for help from the federal police, and eventually six of the eight federal officers in the region were rotated in shifts to guard him, but that came at the expense of other police work, the judge told the newspaper O Globo.

Last week, a judge in the state of Minas Gerais was threatened with being shot while at her office. She asked for a police escort during her drive home to a neighboring town. She got it, but had to pay for the officers' gasoline and dinner.

"It's a demonstration that there is no public policy supporting judges when they are under threat," Renato Henry Sant'Anna, president of a judges association, told O Globo.