30 October 2012

Ivan Rocha


(Disappeared on April 22, 1991) Place and circumstances of disappearance: He was kidnapped on April 22, 1991, as he was walking past a vacant lot on his way to meet his girlfriend, Rosária Monti, at the School of Arts. Probable motive: Prior to his disappearance, Rocha said in a broadcast on Radio Alvorada AM in Teixeira de Freitas that the following day he would disclose the names of police officers and an influential congressman involved in a death squad in the southern tip of the state of Bahia. For some time the radio show host had been denouncing crimes committed by that group. Suspects: Warrants were issued for the arrest and preventive jailing of military officers Jorge Elias, Jacob Mattar, Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Souza, Domingos Cardoso dos Santos and Adilson Dias Ramos. Also taken into preventive custody was Salvador Rodrigues Brandão Filho. But the Public Prosecutor’s Office held that there was evidence only against Brandão Filho, Souza and Santos and laid the charges before the judge. The military police officers who were alleged to have taken part in the crime were acquitted. Brandão Filho and police officers Souza and Santos were put on trial. Santos was acquitted. The other two were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment but the Bahia court upheld their appeal and acquitted them. The defense was that the journalist’s body had never been found. The case was closed in 1994.


Name: Ivan Rocha (Valdeci de Jesus was his real name) Age at death: 33 Marital status: Single Profession/title: Host of the program “A voz de Ivan Rocha” broadcast by Radio Alvarada AM in Teixeira de Freitas Background in journalism: He was regional head of the Bahia Professional Journalists Union at the southern tip of the state. He also worked at the daily newspaper A Notícia. CHRONOLOGY April 22, 1991 – Ian Rocha, journalists and radio announcer, disappears. He had been denouncing the existence of a “crime syndicate” in southern Bahia with the participation of local police officers and politicians. April 23 – Representatives of the union, friends and family members set up the “Committee of Solidarity with Ivan Rocha and Other Missing Persons.” April 30 – Members of the Bahia Legislative Assembly’s Human Rights Commission visit Teixeira de Freitas, where they are informed of the climate of tension and violence. Jackson Silva is named special police officer and Edward Cabral Costa district attorney for the investigation into the case. May 8 – An ecumenical rally to protest violence is held in Caravelas Square in Teixeira de Freitas, with 7,000 people taking part. May 9 – The Teixeira de Freitas district judge orders the arrest and custody of military police officers Jorge Elias Jacob Mattar, Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Souza and Adilson Dias Ramos, as well as Salvador Rodrigues Brandão Filho. All flee before being arrested. Later, military police officer Jorge Mattar turns himself in and Souza and Ramos are fired. May 15 – Nine skeletons, some burned and decapitated, are uncovered. Brazilian Attorney General Aristides Junqueira accepts the writ of crime by omission filed by the National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj) citing Governor Antônio Carlos Magalhães’ failure to have followed up the case of the disappearance of Rocha. May 20 – Itagimirim District Judge Benedito Coelho orders the preventive detention of Military Police Sergeant Jorge Elias Jacob Mattar, accused of heading a death squad in the extreme south of Bahia state. May 27 – During a meeting at the Brazilian Attorney General’s Office, the chairman of the Bahia Human Rights Commission raises the Rocha case and calls for Federal Police to step in. May 28 – the Ivan Rocha Solidarity Committee distributes 2,000 flyers titled “Where Is Ivan Rocha?” and places 10 posters around Teixeira de Freitas. May 31 – The posters disappear. Rocha’s mother declares that she had been “abducted” by police officers. June 1 – Rocha’s mother appears on television in Salvador. Her son is accused of falsifying documents and fraud, because his real name was Valdeci de Jesus. June 3 – Congressman Edival Passos, president of the Bahia Legislative Assembly, summoned the Assembly’s Human Rights Commission to hear testimony from the father and sister of the missing person. During the session, Congressman Eujácio Simões, whjo was drunk, started uproar. Military police freed Rocha’s mother at the door of her home. She was distraught. The Bahia Journalists Union issued a press release deploring the lack of diligence by police in searching for the whereabouts of the missing journalist. June 5 – The Rocha case sparks a stormy debate which brings the Bahia Legislative Assembly session to a close. June 11 – A representative of the Solidarity Committee and Human Rights Commission in southern Bahia denounced the abduction of Rocha’s mother to the Justice Ministry’s Council for the Defense of Human Rights. June 19 – The Teixeira de Freitas district judge orders the preventive detention of Domingos Cardoso dos Santos. June 26 – Rochas mother speaks about her “abduction” to the public prosecutor and a representative of the Solidarity Committee. June 28 – The Teixeira de Freitas district judge orders the preventive detention of Salvador Rodrigues Brandão Filho and Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Souza. July 3 – A member of the Solidarity Committee attempts to contact Cirlene Alves Neto, the key witness in the investigation, to offer her protection, but finds that she has traveled to Vitória, Espírito Santo state, where she is working as a housemaid. July 4 – The Teixeira de Freitas alternate judge orders the preventive detention of Domingos Cardoso dos Santos. July 19 – Police officer Jackson Silva delivers the report of police investigation number 001/91 of the Special Precinct in Teixeira de Freitas. In the report, Rocha’s disappearance is described as a kidnapping. The victims are named as Ivan Santos da Rocha or Valdeci de Jesus and society. The crime is attributed to Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Souza, Salvador Rodrigues Brandão Filho, Domingos Cardoso dos Santos, Adilson Dias Ramos and Joel Caetano Pereira. July 29 – The Teixeira de Freitas alternate judge orders the preventive detention of Adilson Dias Ramos, Jorge Elias Jacob Mattar and Joel Caetano Pereira. Salvador Rodrigues Brandão Filho and Adilson Dias Ramos are fugitive. August 8 – The representative of the State Public Prosecutor’s Office submits to the Teixeira de Freitas district judge indictment of Salvador Rodrigues Brandão Filho, Antônio Carlos Ribeiro de Souza and Domingos Cardoso dos Santos. He describes Rocha’s disappearance as “a kidnap.” August 16 – The key witness in the investigation, Cirlene Alves Neto, is “kidnapped” by the same police officer who had abducted Rocha’s mother. She appears on television with the attorney of Salvador Rodrigues Brandão Filho, the principal accused, and denies the testimony she earlier gave to the district attorney and the special police officer. Attorney Jehová de Carvalho says he will take legal action against police officer Jackson Silva and district attorney Edward Cabral Costa, alleging that they had pressured her into declaring that she had witnessed the kidnapping and recognized the suspects. According to rumors circulating in Teixeira de Freitas, Alves Neto is living with her “abductor,” the military police officer known as Cidadão. August 28 – Father José testifies before the Disciplinary Board of the 13th Battalion of the Military Police in Teixeira de Freitas which has charged 2nd Sergeant Jorge Elias Jacob Mattar, who is accompanied by his attorney, Lieutenant Colonel Osvaldo, currently a police officer in Teixeira de Freitas. 1984 – The case is shelved for lack of evidence against the suspects. It is argued that the journalist’s body has never been found. Source: Center for the Defense of Human Rights in the Extreme South of Bahia.