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JUDGE MURDERED BY BRAZILIAN POLICE FOR JAILING CORRUPT COPS
Judge with record of jailing corrupt police officers killed with 21 bullets including some belonging to her local force
One of Brazil's most high profile judges who jailed more than 60 corrupt police officers was shot dead with 21 police bullets, including some belonging to her local force, it has been revealed.
Patricia Acioli was known for wielding a 'heavy hammer' especially against rogue police who have formed illegal vigilante gangs.
But the Rio de Janeiro state judge paid for that fearlessness last month after she was was shot dead in front of her house.
All of the 21 bullets that hit her came from a batch issued to police, including some in Sao Goncalo, the city where she worked.
It has also been revealed that in spite of regular threats to Acioli, court officials had cut her security team from four to one in 2007.
'This is a matter involving my life, and it is very important,' Acioli wrote in a letter appealing the decision. 'I don't understand the treatment being given to the case.'
But the security officers were never reinstated and at the moment she was shot, no one was there to protect her.
The authorities in Brazil have called the brazen murder of Acioli 'a wound to the lawful state, to democracy; the figure of the judge is a symbol of justice.'
Denise Frossard, a retired judge who presided over some of Rio's first cases against the militias in the 1990s added: 'If she is a judge and can be killed, how can a citizen feel secure enough to be a witness?'
Although Acioli's death was the first murder of a judge in the state's history Frossard herself has survived three assassination attempts and had eight security guards ensuring her safety.
In Sao Goncalo, 34 officers were put on leave after Acioli's death because they face serious criminal charges such as murder, according to Rio state's Supreme Court.
Arrest warrants have been issued for 28 of them.
Acioli had been repeatedly threatened for taking on the police officers who were part of the gangs, and she had written letters to her superiors requesting protection.
One week before her murder she went to Rio police's internal affairs office and said she was being threatened by officers from Sao Goncalo, where she worked, and Niteroi, where she lived.
Her last case on August 11, the day she died, involved policemen charged with executing an 18-year-old man in a slum.
The suspects knew the judge would ask for their arrest, and wanted to stop her, said Felipe Ettore, the head of Rio's homicide division, in a press conference this week.
They didn't know she'd already issued the order.
'Their way of stopping her was to kill her,' he said. 'They went to court and followed Patricia to her front door.'
'The assassination of Judge Acioli is evidence of the existence of a pervasive and serious problem regarding the protection of judges in Brazil. Her death did bring on a fear among prosecutors and judges; they're human, and it's natural to think, 'That could be me tomorrow,"' Claudio Lopes, Rio state's attorney general added.
'But if this was done to intimidate justice, it is backfiring. We will be more rigorous than ever.'