Brazil's dictatorship 'rigged fatal crash of ex-president Juscelino Kubitschek'

Truth commission says it can prove military rigged 'crash' in which top politician died

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 December, 2013, 8:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 December, 2013, 1:14am


A car accident that killed Brazil's former president, Juscelino Kubitschek, was rigged by the country's military dictatorship, says a new investigation.

Kubitschek, remembered as the president who moved the capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia, died on the motorway between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on August 22, 1976.

But suspicions have swirled for decades that he was the victim of foul play by the then-military dictator Ernesto Geisel.

In a report released on Tuesday, Sao Paulo's truth commission said it had evidence to show that Kubitschek was killed in a plot to remove him as a potential challenger for the presidency.

Shortly before his death, Kubitschek, who was president from 1956 to 1961, had just had his political rights restored, which meant he was eligible to run again for office.

The Sao Paulo truth commission, made up of city councillors, said it had more than 90 items of proof to back up its claim, including faked records, procedural errors and contradictions in official reports.

Investigators said a bus driver testified that he was offered a cash payment for declaring that he ran into Kubitschek's vehicle, which he refused.

Another witness claimed to have seen a 7mm metal fragment in the driver's head.

Councillor Gilberto Natalini said the bullet hole in the driver's head was identified by a police forensics expert when the body was exhumed the first time in 1996, but police colleagues stopped him taking a photo of it.

Natalini said the shot was believed to have been fired from another car, which drew level with the ex-president's car.

Another witness, a truck driver, claims he saw the driver slumped over the wheel as the car veered across the verge into the path of another truck.

The motive for the crime, according to Natalini, was to stop Kubitschek's planned run for the presidency in 1978.

Kubitschek's body has not been re-examined, but the national truth commission recently ordered the exhumation of the remains of Joao Goulart, his successor, who also died in suspicious circumstances.

The Sao Paulo report will be submitted to the national truth commission, which is looking into this and other crimes allegedly carried out during Brazil's military dictatorship.

Its final conclusions are expected no earlier than next May.