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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007, 02:28 GMT 03:28 UK
Brazil reveals military rule list
By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva
President Lula was briefly in prison himself
Brazil has for the first time published an official document detailing atrocities said to have been committed during the military dictatorship.

The country was under military control from 1964 to 1985.

The book was launched at a ceremony attended by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was himself briefly imprisoned under the dictatorship.

It accuses federal agents of rape, torture, executing prisoners, and concealing bodies of victims.

They are also alleged to have decapitated people.

The new book, "The Right to Memory and to Truth", was published on the anniversary of Brazil's amnesty law passed in 1979.

That law, passed as the dictatorship was drawing to a close, pardoned all those said to have been involved in crimes committed under the regime, as well as those who fought against it.

After 11 years of work, this official publication is meant to record what the special commission set up to investigate political deaths and disappearances considers to be the historical truth about this dark period in Brazil's recent history.

More than 400 people are believed to have been killed under military rule, while more than 160 others are thought to have disappeared, although this was far fewer than in neighbouring countries such as Chile and Argentina.
Worker organises secret documents from Brazil's military dictatorship at the National Library Archive in Brasilia
Researchers have spent 11 years preparing the book

The book also notes that opponents of the regime resorted to bank robberies, kidnappings of foreign diplomats and attacks on military bases, which it says produced countless victims.

Paulo Vannuchi, Brazil's special secretary for human rights, speaking at the launch of the book, told the BBC he would not use the word "crime" to describe the deaths of agents working for the dictatorship - a view that is likely to cause anger in military circles.

Mr Vannuchi was a member of a militant group that fought against the regime and was imprisoned for five years, during which he was tortured.

In 1995, Brazil passed a law acknowledging the government was responsible for deaths under the dictatorship and compensation was paid to more than 300 families.

However, the bodies of some of those who disappeared have not been recovered and the book calls on the government to allow for evidence to be taken from members of the police and military who might be able to locate those missing remains.

Victims of the dictatorship say because of this the official publication only represents modest progress, while the authors say they hope it will advance the sacred right of families to bury their loved ones.

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Timeline: Brazil
11 Dec 03 |  Country profiles


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