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Note from BW of Brazil: First of all, apologies for presenting this report so late. The origins of today’s interview date back to Christmas of last year when an Italian tourist visiting northeast Brazil was assaulted and killed. The police immediately locked up a Brazilian woman from Rio de Janeiro who was acquainted with the victim. As Mírian França sat in a jail for weeks without legal representation, social networks and activists, outraged with Mirian’s imprisonment that didn’t seem have any valid reasoning, launched a campaign for her freedom. França, a Ph.D candidate, was eventually released although she hasn’t been completely cleared of accusations. Many, including Mirian’s mother, saw racial elements in Mirian’s arrest. As always, the question must be asked: If Mirian was a white woman and a candidate for a doctorate degree, would she have been locked up quickly or at all? In a racist society, it’s a legitimate question. Below, we present an interview with Mirian after she was finally released. Please keep in mind that when the interview was conducted, only two months had passed since the murder of the Italian tourist Gaia Molinari. It has now been four full months!
Two months later: Who killed Gaia Molinari? Interview with Mirian França
Note from Mamapress
A mistake that costs the peace of thousands of people, poor, black men and women, women, men and homosexuals who mofam today in Brazilian prisons
Why did travel alone?
Why is she still single?
Why doesn’t she have children?
Why is she a liar?
These are questions that when they were responded to within the accepted standards by the morals of delegates that lead to the pre-judgement of women, soon placed as murder suspects due to independent ways of life they lead.
Mirian França still doesn’t understand what happened to her and as it was soon to happen to her, she wanted to help, and turned into “great and dangerous criminal who killed a foreigner” to the police chief and the press. No one can understand when one falls into these traps of a racist destination, intolerance and violation of civil rights of citizens, in which any of us can fall into overnight, precisely at times when we are more relaxed and happy, feeling as if we are in paradise.
It is a fact that soon everyone will forget in the day to day injustices committed. For Miriam França however, they became marks such as time bombs, of an underlying racism in the entire case that could explode internally each time. The pursuit of “understanding” in an intellectual way, everything that happened, helped to protect her from the psychological pain of the first post-aggression moments of camouflaged racism.
The marks of verbal aggression of hearing herself (judged) as a liar, the six days of doubt cast as a criminal in a filthy cell with no water to drink, interrogation without a lawyer, are indelible marks that remain forever.
Miriam França, her family will need in the future the moral, psychological and spiritual support of her friends. Our bodies and souls see and feel what is not spoken or explained by the executioners of morality, prejudice, intolerance and racism.
Miriam is a woman of strong moral education based on the search for truth.
May she always have friends at her side. At times in which the silence of the night the revolt and indignation with all the nonsense that she went through, doesn’t hurt more than an interview reveals to us.
It’s a puzzle that breaks our heads.
Interview conceded by Mirian França on February 13th, shortly after being released from prison, to respond in freedom to the charge of the murder of Gaia Molinari attributed to her.
On the afternoon of last Christmas, more than two months ago, a couple who were on a path between Pedra Furada and Vila de Jericoacoara saw a woman’s body lying on the sand surrounded vegetation on the dune. Since then, it has not been discovered who killed Italian woman Gaia Molinari. She was dressed in a bikini, with a backpack on her back, and a head wound as she had been hit with a stone; a strong blow to the forehead and another evidence of aggression on her chin. Her hands were purple, as if they were tied up, and marks on her neck that, later, forensic exams would confirm strangulation. Who killed Gaia? She was found in the Serrote region, but was she really murdered there?
Read more: Delegate points out the contradictions of Mirian
Who killed Gaia?
Two months since the death of the Italian woman
Courtesy of Verdes Mares-Fortaleza
Special series approaches the elements drawn by the defense and accusation surrounding the mysterious death of Gaia Molinari
Known as a paradise of tranquility, Jericoacoara, in the municipality of Jijoca, is reverberating, but not by its postcard.
Gaia was passing through and was found in the hollow of the Serrote region. The crime is surrounded by mysteries. In the early hours in which her body was found, a suspect was soon appointed. “Edinho is disturbed in the head and had already stabbed one,” says an innkeeper. “He ended up dying,” explains the same ‘Edinho’. Outside of the home of Edson Veríssimo, considered a suspect, people gathered. Police caught him at home to testify and afterwards he’s released home. For the police, he continues to be suspected of involvement. Just as an Italian, a Uruguayan and a Brazilian, among them Mirian França.
A principal suspect, the pharmaceutical from Rio de Janeiro traveled to Jericoacoara with Gaia. The two had met in Fortaleza with similar desires: Sightseeing. But Miriam returned to Fortaleza without Gaia and this was just one of the many questions raised by police chief Patrícia Bezerra, who is heading up the investigation.
Accused, arrested, exposed and saying she is psychologically pressured, Mirian França became an important piece of a puzzle. Her arrest had repercussions in that Gaia’s death caused public interest.
But there are many loose pieces, and the consequences could be unpredictable. We try, to mount, if not find out who fit into it. Exclusively, Mírian França, Patrícia Bezerra and Gina Moura conceded interviews to us in hearing the question: Who killed Gaia?
The Mírian França interview
“I did not lie to the police, I cannot pay for what I didn’t do”
Did you kill Gaia, or have any involvement in her murder?
I had nothing to do with it, absolutely nothing in relation to it. I helped the police from the beginning. They didn’t come after me. They called me, they said the time and where I should present myself, at 6 am which was the time that it would be open. I presented myself at the police station (in Canoa Quebrada, where I went after Jeri), they brought me to Fortaleza to testify. I always said I was struggling to remember everything that had happened. I was making a great effort to be able to help. As I was remembering other things I sought the police, I called, I informed (them). They picked me up to do a recognition of suspect, to show photos. They had my address the whole time.
The police talk about your contradictions. Why would you put you in the position on the witness stand for suspicion?
I still don’t understand how I was involved in that. Since my first statement when I spoke to the police chief it was hard to remember the whole situation then, but I was making an effort to remember. I told her what had happened, a bit of our trip, what I knew about Gaia. My second testimony was very much under pressure. But I said again the whole story of the first statement. I so-called contradictions I don’t understand, because for the third testimony I also said the same things again.
What are these pressures that you refer to?
People were very pressuring me a lot. I reiterated what I had said, but people were looking at me suspiciously. There was no one there by my side and it was a pretty tense moment because the police picked me up on the 28th (December) in the morning where I was staying and took me to Jeri. I spent the whole day escorted. I did not realize what was happening to me. In the late afternoon, I was put in a police station for questioning, in a room isolated from other people. My cell phone had been taken from me. I showed the police how I accessed phone. On that day, before I arrived at the police station, police had said they were thinking that Gaia had died on the 25th and not on the 24th. I was thinking: wow, she spent the whole night being tortured and assaulted? I was feeling very scared, desperate and didn’t realize that I was already being considered a suspect.
How did you learn of Gaia’s death?
The reservation there in Jericoacoara was in my name. When the owner of the hotel found out, that Gaia’s contact was me, my number was there in the records. I was already in Canoa Quebrada. I was shocked, paralyzed, not accepting that.
You traveled together. Why did you leave Jericoacoara without her?
We had to be at the bus 10:30pm to go back to Fortaleza. Most of the time I was at the inn. When the time came, Gaia was not there. I looked for her, I sent a message on ‘whatsapp’, but it was time for the bus to leave, I thought she had stayed for one of the parties that took place there. I was feeling so secure in that place, and I think Gaia did too. The fact of my leaving without her was not a lack of friendship or concern, that I abandoned the girl to die. It was a day of celebration. I thought she was there, lost track of time of the bus and stayed for a party. I never imagined that such a thing would happen.
Did you ever imagine what might have happened?
After the news, I could not remember straight everything that had happened there. I started going back to remembering all the things, from the day we arrived, with whom we talked, things she had told me, what other people said. I tried to redeem all those memories to help as much as possible. Of course, I elaborated a lot of things in my head of what could have happened, but I don’t want to get into that aspect in order not to influence the research and expose other people. I passed this on to the police, but I don’t want to say here.
How were the days in prison?
Very difficult. Jail is a very hostile environment. I spent the first six days in a common seal, with the other prisoners who arrived there without any conditions of hygiene. It’s a place where they throw you there, you only receive lunch and dinner. We had no water. I drank from the shower. It wasn’t even a shower. Actually it was a pipe where the water fell. Before being handed over to the Decap (Precinct) I spent the whole night with the police under psychological pressure. Being accused of things I didn’t do.
Lying, for example. I went taken from Jericoacoara straight to ‘Capture’. I got there right and didn’t remember correctly things that happened to me that night. I came to the cell screaming a lot, telling people that I was being charged with murder and I didn’t remember what had happened. I met a lot of girls and all of them in real solidarity. I was surprised by that. I didn’t think that it was like this in jail, the most hostility really came from the prison system.
Do you think being a woman, black, in some moment interfered in front of the accusations?
Racism today is something that you just feel, people don’t talk openly about it. If I was the victim of racism, I don’t know why people don’t speak openly. But of course I thought it was strange, among several people who were being considered suspects, foreign people who were there, I, who am black, was exposed that way, considered suspect and not understanding why. What I felt a lot, I saw and heard in fact, was a very great prejudice against women. I had to justify myself several times because I am a woman traveling alone. Because I have no boyfriend, I’m not married, I don’t have children yet. My sex life was very exposed, investigated by the police, as if it had any relevance to the case. If racial prejudice is happening it’s not spoken, but against a woman it was a blatant thing I noticed there.
The investigation is not over. Your arrest was revoked, but are you afraid of being found guilty?
I’m not afraid, no, because there’s already been a lot of time that I’ve been investigated and they didn’t find nor will they find anything linking me with this crime. I do not know what to think in relation to this. There are many things wrong in this whole situation.
In what sense?
There were many people who were being considered suspicious and I was the only one who was exposed; from the first moment that I was still being considered a witness. I didn’t seek the press, which released my name. I came out there as a witness to a murder case, no one knew what had happened, who did this to Gaia and my name was released as a witness. I found it absurd. In the second phase, in which I was considered a suspect, I was shocked. I didn’t do this, I have nothing to do with it. My name was exposed as the one who was lying during the testimony. Nobody has explained what the lies were that could have harmed the case, if they had them.
What will you do from this point on?
In a little while the country will forget this, these 15 minutes will pass quickly. But until we find out what happened to Gaia, there will always be the doubt that I somehow could have done it or participated in the murder of a person.
I always studied, my mother has looked out a lot for my education. I was a public school student. With much effort, I managed to pass the vestibular (entrance exam) for a public university as well. I graduated from UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) in Pharmacy, went straight to graduate school, did a Masters, and today, I am in the doctorate (program). I investigate immunology of the leishmaniasis disease for the development of a preventive vaccine, but also to identify what response there is to immunologic disease. This is my current line of research. I do not know how it will go now with this whole situation. There will always be doubt. Prejudice is there in the head not only of the police but of the society.