By Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Gram Slattery
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Flordelis dos Santos de Souza, a former Brazilian congresswoman accused of orchestrating the execution of her husband in June 2019, was arrested on Friday evening after being stripped of her parliamentary immunity.
Flordelis, as she is widely known in Brazil, was charged with murder a year ago along with 10 alleged co-conspirators in the death of her husband, pastor Anderson do Carmo. He was shot 30 times in the garage of their home.
But her position as a federal deputy representing Rio de Janeiro state had shielded her from prosecution.
On Wednesday, Brazil’s lower house voted to remove her from office. A judge ordered that she be arrested shortly thereafter at the request of state prosecutors.
Flordelis’ lawyer, Anderson Rollemberg, criticized the arrest and vowed to appeal on Monday morning.
“Totally arbitrary,” he wrote in a WhatsApp message. “She went to all the hearings and she was wearing an ankle bracelet.”
The Flordelis case has fascinated Brazil for several reasons including the defendant’s unusual profile. A former evangelical pastor and singer, Flordelis rose to fame by adopting dozens of children in need, some of whom later accused her of running a cult-like organization.
The brutal murder of her husband struck a chord in a state where powerful organized crime groups and evangelical power brokers have developed close links in recent years.
Police have alleged Carmo’s murder came amid a power struggle within the sprawling family.
Television images on Friday evening showed Rio de Janeiro police escorting Flordelis from her home into a police car, clutching a Bible.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Gram Slattery; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)