Brazilian prosecutors on Tuesday unveiled the first criminal charges for crimes committed during the two-decade military dictatorship which ended almost a quarter of a century ago.
Army colonel Sebastiao Curio Rodrigues de Moura, better known as Dr Luchini, was charged over the unresolved kidnapping of five militants captured during a crackdown on leftist guerrillas in the 1970s and still missing today, prosecutor Tiago Rabelo told a press conference.
Araguaia guerrillas, a movement founded by a splinter group of the Brazilian Communist Party, were active against the military government (1966-1974) along the Araguaia river banks.
The charges come after President Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla jailed and tortured during the 1964-1985 dictatorship, in November endorsed the creation of a truth panel to probe human rights abuses during the period.
The truth commission is meant to investigate issues including politically motivated abductions in the Cold War-era, rights abuses and murders over a time span longer than the dictatorship -- 1946-1988.
It does not however lift an amnesty for those who carried out the crackdown, in effect since 1979, and upheld in 2010 by the Supreme Court.
Rabelo said the charges would be officially filed Wednesday in his jurisdiction in the northern Amazon state of Para where the insurgents operated. Three other prosecutors from the states of Sao Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul are also involved in the legal action.
Brazil has acknowledged 400 abductions and presumed deaths during the dictatorship.
The Brazilian prosecutors meanwhile warned more civil and criminal cases could follow.
Last year, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights slammed Brazil for past abuses of human rights and dismissed the 1979 amnesty laws as being legally invalid saying they were incompatible with the Inter-American Declaration of Human Rights.
The president of the Brazilian Bar Association, Ophir Cavalcante, expressed sympathy for Tuesday's court action, but said it could only succeed if the Supreme Court reconsiders its decision to uphold the amnesty law.
The prosecutors said they based their action on two rulings of the Supreme Court which agreed to extradite to Argentina two former soldiers whose crimes allegedly committed during the dictatorship were not covered by legal statutes.
Rousseff also promulgated a law lifting indefinite secrecy for public records and mandating their publication after a maximum of 50 years, another historic step to investigate crimes committed during the dictatorship.