Police in Brazil announced the arrests of three suspects in the brutal murder of a gay activist teacher. The charred and bullet-ridden body of Professor Lindolfo Kosmaski, 25, was found in a burned car on the side of a highway in the municipality of Sao Joao do Triunfo on April 30. According to Globo, police arrested three suspects aged 20, 33, and 39 years old, and who they said all knew Kosmaski. Police said the investigation is ongoing and they are looking for a motive, but local activists have called Kosmaski's death a hate crime.
"We will have several other stages of data analysis, which is a more technological stage, in order to bring together all the elements necessary to hold those responsible for this nefarious crime to account," Michel Leite Pereira da Silva, the police officer investigating the case, told Globo.
Police said Kosmaski was last seen on the evening of April 30 at a local drinking establishment. The following day his body was found in a burned out car on the side of a highway. Police said he had been shot twice, although it was unclear if he was still alive at the time the car was set ablaze.
"He was well known in the region," Kosmaski's cousin, Benedito Camargo, told UOL. "Before he died, he paid everyone for beer and then he disappeared. His cell phone stayed at the establishment. A friend said that Lindolfo would have received a death threat days before he was murdered."
Kosmaski was a local teacher and an activist involved with Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (MST), a Marxist-inspired group that advocates for land reform and social justice. In a memorial to Kosmaski on their website, MST noted the teacher and activist was a proud peasant himself, having grown up poor on a farm, and "learning from the community the values of solidarity and humility" while he helped raise his five younger brothers and sisters. An excellent student, he went to university where he earned a degree in rural education. He returned home to help take care of his parents upon graduation but was also working on his post-graduate studies.
At the time of his murder, Kosmaski was teaching in four different schools in the Parana State Education Network. He made an unsuccessful run for municipal councilor last year as a member of the Partido dos Trabalhadores or Worker's Party.
MST described him as "young, a peasant, gay, full of dreams," and went on to note his activism and loving disposition will be sorely missed.
"He was a person known for affection and care; with a frank smile and an open heart, with a cheerful look, that captivate hugs and love," MST remembered. "One of those beings who roam the world with a pounding heart, open to the challenge of learning, teaching and sharing" and who wanted to make a difference in the world.
"A legacy this size is impossible to forget, erase or burn out," they lamented.