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Brazilian Guard Gets 516 Years

On October 23, 1993, Celso Jose De Cruz, a military police investigator, was sentenced by a Brazilian judge to a record 516 years in prison for the murder of 18 prisoners. A jury had found Cruz, 46, guilty of all 18 counts of murder.

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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