The Chief Justice of the
Federal Supreme Court of Brazil,
Dr. Gilmar Mendes
You have a historic decision in your hands.
You will determine if the people, the judicial
system and the State have the right to judge
criminals accused of crimes against humanity. And
you will also be deciding if Brazil continues to
harbor human rights violators from around the world.
Today you have in your hands the power to decide on
the extradition of Uruguayan torturer colonel Manuel
Cordero Piacentini, who sought refuge in Brazil in
2004, fleeing from a trial in Uruguay, where a judge
declared him in contempt in a proceeding in which he
was charged with “advocacy of torture.”
Because colonel Cordero publicly stated that he
supported the use of physical coercion to obtain a
confession from prisoners, and, therefore, he
explicitly vindicated his use of torture on
opponents of the Uruguayan dictatorship, which he
Because colonel Cordero later refused to appear
before the criminal court that summoned him to
answer for his public statements, employing
countless excuses and legal ploys to avoid appearing
in court, and ultimately fleeing to Brazil and
declaring himself a “political refugee.”
In your hands is the responsibility of granting or
denying the requests for extradition issued by an
Argentinean judge and a Uruguayan judge, who are
investigating this officer for his involvement in
“Operation Condor” and for the kidnapping and forced
disappearance of Uruguayan civilians in Argentina in
Because colonel Cordero was one of the heads of the
coordinated repression carried out by the region’s
dictatorships, and he is responsible for the forced
disappearance of children and the torturing of
hundreds of Uruguayans in Automotores Orletti, the
clandestine detention center of the city of Buenos
Because colonel Cordero went as far as raping a
woman in front of her partner, the unionist León
Duarte, to extort money from him. He also extorted
money from another unionist, Gerardo Gatti, and he
is one of the persons behind the disappearance of
the Uruguayan Adalberto Soba, among others…
What is actually in your hands is merely the
obligation of determining whether the requests made
by the Argentinean and Uruguayan courts are in
accordance with Brazil’s legal regulations, to then
decide, within due process of law, on the rights
that colonel Manuel Cordero Piacentini undeniably
But also in your hands is the right that the
families of the victims of these imprescriptible
crimes against humanity have to the truth, the right
to find out what happened to their loved ones, whose
cherished laughter they have lost in this infamous
silence, the right to know where their remains are
and to give them proper burial.
Also in your hands is the right that the people who
suffered such atrocious circumstances have to
remember, because knowing what happened is essential
to understanding history and preventing the same
from happening in the future, and from affecting my
children, or your children, or our grandchildren.
Also in your hands is the credibility of the court
system, of justices and judges, of prosecutors and
of the very laws that we set for ourselves to live
together in peace… Because when someone who has
committed crimes against humanity is allowed to go
free, without being brought to justice, a situation
of impunity is generated that infects the whole of
In your hands is the power that you, a human being
like myself, have of achieving justice by allowing
other judges, in other countries, to also achieve
justice under the laws established by their people.
Because that is what this is about: finding the
truth and achieving justice.
Montevideo, October 2008
Justice Cézar Peluso – Assistant Chief Justice.
Justice Celso de Mello.
Justice Marco Aurélio.
Justice Ellen Gracie.
Justice Carlos Britto.
Justice Joaquim Barbosa.
Justice Eros Grau.
Justice Ricardo Lewandowski.
Justice Cármen Lúcia.
Justice Menezes Direito.