Flordelis, the former Brazilian deputy, singer and pastor, sentenced to 50 years for ordering the murder of her husband | International
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Even in that paradise of drama and script twists that is Brazil, the story of Flordelis dos Santos de Souza, from Rio de Janeiro, 61, an evangelical pastor and federal deputy until last year, stands out. It contains all those essential ingredients to compose a sensational drama and it has them in abundant doses: love, hate, power, money, sex, politics, religion, a murder and, at the center of the entire plot, a former heroine turned villain. And, of course, since a soundtrack can’t be missing in this country either, gospel plays in the background.
Raised in Jacarezinho, a favela in Rio de Janeiro, she became famous in the 1990s by welcoming dozens of children into her home who had just survived a vigilante massacre. She created a family that grew to include 55 adopted and biological children. Three decades later, in 2019, she landed in the heart of political power as a federal deputy riding the Bolsonarist and ultra-conservative wave.
This Sunday, Flordelis has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for ordering two of her children to murder her husband, also a pastor. Anderson do Carmo died at the age of 42, shot in the garage of the chalet that the couple shared with dozens of children. It was early in the morning, he had just returned from a romantic outing with his wife. The sentence, issued after a trial with twenty witnesses that lasted all week, highlights “the coldness and contempt for life” in addition to the “explicit hatred” with which he acted, reports the newspaper Or Balloon.
Police investigators argued that the crime was motivated by struggles for power and money in the evangelical church they founded together: the Flordelis Ministry. But the defense of the former parliamentarian maintains that the murdered man was a sexual predator who abused his wife, some daughters and even granddaughters. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, they only intended to turn the pastor into the aggressor, when in reality he was the victim.
Flordelis has declared this Saturday for 40 minutes before the judge and the popular jury who decided his fate. When bursting into tears, one of the jurors asked if the tears were real. Yes, she replied, report Or Balloon. In addition to proclaiming her innocence, she has recounted that at one time her husband beat her and at another she became violent during the sexual act. “Kill my husband? Half of me died with him (…) I have been paying for the mistakes of others for three years. They say that I commissioned the murder of who I loved most in this life. He had only been in Congress for six months. He needed him to finish the legislature well, ”she declared between sobs.
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Do Carmo came into Flordelis’s life as a helpless boy, declared the former judge who in the 1990s authorized her to stay with those thirty children whose families apparently did not claim. “He went through several stages: I met him as a son, then he married Flor and acquired a leading role. It was no longer she who was talking to me, but he. He assumed a position of father to these children/siblings. He became a manager, the guy who decided and directed that product that was the Flordelis family, ”explained the judge who handled the case in the 1990s.
In contrast to the imposing woman with the bushy, long hair of her days as a parliamentarian, evangelical pastor, successful gospel singer and mediocre actress, Flordelis appeared despondent during the trial sessions, which were held in Niteroi, a city facing Rio, across the Guanábara Bay. She often listened with her head down or cried. She appeared in a white tracksuit, short hair and glasses.
This case illustrates two transcendental phenomena in Brazil, one more recent and the other long overdue: the strength of the evangelical churches, which in addition to being a spiritual balm are a lucrative business, accumulate more and more political power and are a highly coveted vote; and the corporatism of parliamentarians, always reluctant to drop one of their own even in the face of an accusation of the caliber of murder.
As Flordelis gained fame, his career expanded to new horizons. She found her place in the gigantic Christian music industry as a gospel singer, she played herself in a telefilm and, together with her husband, founded the Flordelis Ministry. One of those temples aligned to the theology of prosperity where pastors preach the benefits of financial success and in the rest of the facets of life and in each cult the faithful religiously pay a tithe, in cash or by card. The couple came to open several temples, now closed.
When Brazilians erupted in outrage against their politicians, do Carmo and Flordelis saw an opportunity to broaden their horizons in politics. She stood for election and won a seat in Brasilia.
A year later, she was left a widow after a crime that made headlines throughout Brazil. Two of her sons were arrested: one for shooting at close range, the other for getting the gun. Both have been convicted. That the police arrested her for ordering the murder of her husband over whom she had cried so much in public was less surprising because her suspicions were high.
His colleagues in the Chamber of Deputies closed ranks, fearful that lifting his parliamentary immunity would set a dangerous precedent for all of them. At the height of the Lava Jato operation, more than half had pending accounts with the justice system for corruption, above all, but also for theft or torture. It took a year for her lordships to decide to take away the seat that, according to the final decision, the accused used to coerce witnesses and hide evidence.
He entered prison awaiting trial. Next to her, a biological daughter, a granddaughter and two adopted children also sit on the bench. The first has been sentenced to 31 years for the murder. The other three have been released without charge.
Although the couple of shepherds projected an image of a traditional marriage, behind closed doors the panorama was very different. “We were never a normal family, but we were a family. Dysfunctional, bad, but that was a family,” one of the daughters confessed to the jury. And there were preferences for some children over others, some received much better treatment. Now, some defend her mother and others accuse her.
For the commissioner who initially investigated the case, in that house, and within the same couple, there were all kinds of intrigues. “In a way, they needed each other. Vulgarly speaking, he was the entrepreneur; she, the symbol”. The police also explained on the first day of the trial that they did not verify any sexual abuse perpetrated by the deceased, but that the sexual relations under that roof were consensual. She stressed that the relationship between Flordelis and Do Carmo was open. According to the police agent, with some of the hosts they had a relationship that was not exactly that of a father or a mother.
The victim was shot about 30 times, most of them in the genital area, which, according to the expert witness at the trial, indicates that there was a sexual motivation. Long before that night they tried to poison him. A plan, which in view of what was declared by one of the sons, was widely known in the house, so that it even reached the ears of the pastor.
As expected, the amazing story of this woman, which was already made for television, is now a documentary series, produced by Globo. Flordelis, questioned or adored It was released this week, parallel to the trial. Beyond the verdict of the public, justice has said the last word: he is guilty. He will spend 50 years behind bars.
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