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Brazilian Leader's 1976 Death Found To Be A Military Murder

For years, a car accident has been blamed in the 1976 death of former Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek. But a new inquiry has found the politician was murdered by the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil for 21 years.

"We have no doubt that Juscelino Kubitschek was the victim of a conspiracy, a plot and a political attack," Sao Paulo Truth Commission leader Gilberto Natalini says, according to Agence France-Presse.

Kubitschek served as Brazil's president from 1956 to 1961; his election as a former surgeon with a devotion to infrastructure and development garnered a cover story in Time magazine. At the time of his death, the former leader, 73, worked as a banker.

The panel that looked into Kubitschek's death found "more than 90 pieces of evidence and clues on the military's involvement in his death on Aug. 22, 1976, on a road near the town of Resende, in the south of Rio de Janeiro state," the AFP says, citing Natalini.

The military junta that seized power in Brazil in 1964 maintained control until 1985. For several years, the dictatorship forced Kubitschek into exile. He was killed less than 10 years after his return.

Kubitschek's death has long been attributed to an accident in which a bus hit his car. But for just as long, suspicions have lingered over the official story.

From the BBC:

"Among the evidence is testimony from the driver of the bus that crashed into the former president's car.

"He is said to have told the investigators he had been offered money in exchange for admitting guilt for the accident.

"Another witness reportedly told the commission he briefly saw a bullet hole in the head of Mr Kubitschek's driver during an exhumation procedure in 1996."

The commission is releasing its full report today.

During his presidential tenure, Kubitschek sought to modernize Brazil and develop its industrial ability. He moved the nation's capital from Rio de Janeiro to the planned city of Brasilia, which remains defined by its modern architecture. The city's international airport is named in his honor.

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