A judge has declared that the former head of Brazil's communist party was tortured to death by the military here during the dictatorship in 1976.
In a landmark ruling disclosed in the media Wednesday, Judge Guilherme Madeira Dezem contradicted the military claim at the time that Joao Batista Franco Drumond was run over as he tried to escape.
"I view as relevant the request (by the family of the victim) to correct the death certificate to read 'died in the offices of the DOI-Codi (an intelligence agency center) of the Sao Paulo military' instead of 'died on December 16 1976 on 9th July Avenue,'" the judge said.
Tortured to death
He also agreed that "consequences of physical torture" should be added to ¨head injury" as the cause of death.
The request was made by Maria Cristelli Drumond, the victim's widow.
The state's attorney had argued for a change that showed the death occurred in the offices of the DOI-Codi but held that it could not be proven that Drumond died under torture.
But based on testimony by Drumond's fellow inmates, Dezem concluded that the military's version of events was false.
One of the witnesses called last week was former federal deputy Aldo Arantes, who was tortured at around the same time.
"What the family wanted was for the truth to be established. It is a historic day especially at a time when the country is about to set up a Truth Commission," said Egmar Jose de Oliveira, the lawyer for Drumond's widow.
Last November, President Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla jailed and tortured during the 1964-1985 dictatorship, endorsed creation of the truth panel to probe rights abuses during the period.
The truth commission is tasked with probing politically-motivated abductions in the Cold War-era, rights abuses and murders over a time span exceeding the dictatorship -- 1946-1988.
But it does not lift an amnesty for those who carried out the crackdown, in effect since 1979, and upheld in 2010 by the Supreme Court.
Brazil has acknowledged 400 abductions and presumed deaths during the dictatorship.