Antônio da Costa Santos

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Antônio da Costa Santos (also known as Toninho) was a Brazilian architect and politician affiliated to the Workers' Party (PT).

Toninho took office as Mayor of Campinas (the third largest city in the state of São Paulo, with over 1,000,000 inhabitants), on January 1, 2001. He was shot to death at 10:15 pm, September 10, 2001, as he was driving home alone from a shopping mall.[1] The details and motives of his murder, which stunned the country, were still largely unknown as of 2011.

Toninho was succeeded in office by the vice-Mayor, Izalene Tiene. He left a daughter and a widow.

Murder investigations[edit]

The murder took place in a poorly lit access road leading out of the mall. Witnesses in other cars only said to have seen a silver Vectra driving at high speed and heard shots. Two bullets shattered his car's windows and the last hit him on his left shoulder. Another car (a green Vectra) had been the object of a robbery attempt a few minutes before, on the same route.

Local police version[edit]

Initial investigations by the Campinas Civil Police promptly led to accusations against four local criminals. Robber Anderson Rogério Davi or "Boca", 20, was arrested on October 5, and he pointed to three other accomplices, and two of them (Flávio Roberto Mendes Clara, 19 and A.S.C, 17) were arrested on October 10. According to the police, the men confessed that they were driving two mototorcycles, looking for a car to rob. They overtook Toninho's car, but as he accelerated instead of stopping, Flávio would have shot him. A 38 caliber weapon found with Flávio would have been the crime weapon.[2]

Federal police version[edit]

However, subsequent investigations by the Brazilian Federal Police showed that the confessions and evidence were invalid. Federal investigators instead attributed the murder to accomplices of a certain Wanderson de Paula Lima, nicknamed Andinho, who at the time was among the police's most wanted for a number of crimes. The main clue was a match between the bullets (9 mm and caliber 45) recovered from Toninho' murder scene and from the kidnapping of an 8-year-old boy in Caminas, four days after the murder.

Wanderson was arrested on February 25, 2002, in Itu. According to the police, a 9 mm pistol found in Andinho's hideout matched that used on Toninho and on the kidnapping. The police claimed that three men from Andinho's gang, driving a silver Vectra, had attempted to stop a green Vectra shortly before Toninho's murder, intending to carry out a flash kidnapping. The green Vectra was hit by caliber 45 bullets and showed silver paint streaks from an attempt by the robbers to block its path, which also smashed one of the robbers' car headlights. This detail is confirmed by a security camera from the mall that recorded a car with one headlight off. While running away from that crime, the robbers ran into the Mayor's car, and either attempted to rob it too, or were irritated because Toninho was driving at the speed limit and blocking their way.

However, the three suspects had already been killed by the police before they could be interrogated. Two of them (Valmir Conti or "Valmirzinho", 29, and Anderson José Bastos or "Alemãozinho", 22) were hiding with other two alleged members of Wanderson's gang in an apartment in Caraguatatuba. All four men died on October 2, 2001 in a shootout with a team from the Campinas Civil Police. No policemen were hurt. On January 26, 2006, two members of that team were formally indicted by the São Paulo's Public Attorney for connections to Wanderson's gang.[3]

Political crime[edit]

The police have always maintained that Toninho's murder was a common crime and that the criminals were not aware of the victim's identity. However, suspicions that the murder may have been targeted and may have had political motives were widespread, and have increased recently. Just before his death, Toninho had started investigations on alleged overbudgeting in contracts with urban cleaning companies. Toninho said he had received death threats, but was not going to be intimidated by them.[citation needed] The murder of Celso Daniel, mayor of Santo André and also a PT member, a few months later (January 22, 2002) also contributed to these suspicions.

Toninho's widow Roseana recently complained angrily against President Lula's alleged lack of interest in her husband's murder investigations.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lilian Santos (28 February 2002), POLÍCIA DE SÃO PAULO DIVULGA LAUDOS DOS CASOS DOS PREFEITOS DO PT...[permanent dead link] São Paulo State Public Security Secretariat (SSP-SP) official site. In Portuguese; accessed on 2009-08-17.
  2. ^ Assaltante confessa ter matado Toninho do PT Folha da Região (Araçatuba), October 10, 2001. Accessed on 2009-08-17.
  3. ^ Claudio Julio Tognolli (2006), MP denuncia policiais acusados de chacina em Caraguatatuba Law information site www.conjur.com.br, accessed on 2009-08-17.