Brazil's Bolsonaro grants police officers Christmas pardon

December 24, 2019 - 8:32 am

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has granted a Christmas pardon to police officers convicted of involuntary crimes, according to an item in the country's official gazette published Tuesday.

The pardon applies to police who killed while acting in self-defense or out of necessity. It benefits those who have served at least one-sixth of their sentence, and includes police if they took action while off-duty to eliminate risks to themselves or others.

Bolsonaro, who was elected on a law-and-order platform, pledged to defend cops and said those who shoot criminals should be given medals rather than face legal processes. However, he also said repeatedly before taking office that his administration wouldn't offer any pardons. Earlier this month he announced plans to pardon cops.

The decision is controversial given that extrajudicial killings by Brazilian police have sometimes been wrongly classified as acts of self-defense.

“The decree innovates by granting a pardon to those who dedicate their lives to safeguarding society,” the presidential press office said in a statement, without providing information about how many police will benefit.

Additionally, Bolsonaro pardoned convicts who are gravely ill or have some irreversible medical conditions like paraplegia or blindness.

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