VITORIA, Brazil, March 25 (UPI) -- A colonel from the ranks of Brazil's military police was implicated Tuesday in the assassination of a judge in the corruption-stricken state of Espirito Santo.
According to the state's secretary of public security, Col. Walter Gomes Ferreira allegedly ordered two gunmen to kill Alexandre Martins de Castro Filho on Monday in the eastern state's capital.
The courts decided to send Gomes Ferreira to the western state of Acre to await trial.
Three other men confessed to the killing, two as alleged triggermen and the other for supplying the weapons used in the shooting. One of the arrestees told civil authorities in Espirito Santo that he had no idea the victim was a judge and disavowed knowledge of a contract on Castro's Filho's life.
Monday's killing came two weeks after Judge Antonio Jose Machado Dias was gunned down in Sao Paulo state. Dias had been overseeing the security at a prison where one of the nation's most notorious druglords was being held.
The second death of a judge this month prompted reactions from top officials in Brazil including President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who promised to ratchet up his war against organized crime.
"Brazilian society cannot be afraid 24 hours a day," said Lula in a speech to autoworkers in a Sao Paulo suburb on Monday. The president stressed that more reforms at the state and federal level were necessary for his clampdown on crime to succeed and asked for a commitment from Brazil's working class to help curb violent crimes.
The president, who assumed office on Jan. 1, campaigned on a pledge to crackdown on rampant violence in Brazil though he appears to have had little success during his three months in office.
At the end of February, Lula was forced to send thousands of federal troops to Rio de Janeiro when drug gangs, protesting the extraction of Fernandinho Beira-Mar (Seaside Freddy) from a local prison to one in Sao Paulo, set fire to buses and firebombed the building, threatening the city's famous Carnaval celebration.
Monday's killing prompted Justice Minister Marcio Thomaz de Bastos to travel to Espirito Santo to oversee the initial stages of the investigation into the judge's death.
The state has a reputation for being one of Brazil's most corrupt, as officials there have been accused of human rights abuses against those threatening to expose officials' involvement in organized crime.
Last April prominent lawyer Marcelo Denadai was killed after he reportedly threatened to expose widespread corruption in the state's government. Later this week the minister is scheduled to hear from Brazilian magistrates who will ask the federal government to bolster security precautions for those judges hearing organized crime cases.
According to Claudio Baldino Maciel, president of the Association of Brazilian Magistrates, assuring the safety of certain judges "is fundamental to improving the safety of the public ... and to combat corruption."