RIO DE JANEIRO — A federal court on Thursday sentenced Brazilian engineer Mário Marcelo Santoro to 27 years in prison after he confessed to the 2018 murder of his ex-girlfriend Cecília Haddad in Australia.
Santoro, now in his 40s, was convicted of aggravated homicide, suffocation, femicide and concealment of the body.
The seven-person jury in Rio de Janeiro, made up of six women and one man, issued its decision Thursday morning. Santoro’s lawyer said he will appeal.
In April 2018, the body of Haddad, then 38, was found in the Lane Cover River in Sydney, Australia, just a few miles from her apartment. By then, Santoro had already left the country and flown back to Brazil.
According to thousands of messages reviewed by Australian law enforcement and testimonials from friends and family, Haddad had broken up with Santoro but refused to accept his decision.
About 10 days before his death, Haddad had given Santoro an ultimatum, asking him to leave the apartment or call the police, Australian detective John Edwards said, according to O Globo newspaper and other media outlets who attended the trial. At one point, Haddad had left his house to stay with friends.
Cell phone tracking placed Santoro in Haddad’s apartment and by the river where his body was later found, O Globo reported. Sand and vegetation from that same area was also found in the victim’s car, which Santoro was seen driving in footage captured by security cameras.
In the testimony he delivered Wednesday, Santoro acknowledged going to Haddad’s house to retrieve his passport to catch his flight back to Brazil. He said they quarreled and he “grabbed her by the neck” and “squeezed her very hard” before she “fell limp” in her arms. Santoro, who otherwise seemed quite relaxed during long and detailed trial testimony, wept as he confessed to Haddad’s murder.
“The defendant only confessed in the jury room, after extensive evidence was presented against him,” said federal judge Ian Legay Vermelho. “In other words, he did not confess to the Australian police when he arrived in Brazil. confess before the Brazilian investigators, nor before the judicial stages that he had gone through until that day ”.
Before the ruling, Haddad’s mother, wearing a white T-shirt with a photo of her daughter on it, told reporters that Santoro “was not a human being but a monster” and should be in jail.