The jury found that in February, 1988, after an escape attempt, Cruz had locked up 50 jail prisoners in a cell that measured one and a half meters by three meters. The only ventilation opening in the cell was closed. When other guards opened the cell 2 hours later, nine prisoners were already dead of suffocation and another nine died en route to the hospital.
This was the first time in Brazilian history that a jail or police official has been convicted of killing a prisoner. The prosecutor said: "This conviction is important because it sets a precedent against the impunity enjoyed by the police in this country." Brazilian police have carried out at least three mass killings of prisoners since October of 1992.
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