“I urge that the responsibilities be really assumed,” said Marcelo Pecci in one of his last television interviews, to the Telefuturo channel. “We cannot use the fact that there is corruption as an excuse,” added the magistrate whose funeral will take place on Sunday in the Paraguayan capital.
“Corruption is everywhere. All institutions harbor actors of corruption, but you have to be firm and everyone must play their role. Otherwise, we are on the way to Juarez, Sinaloa…”, he warned , in reference to Mexico and the influence of major drug cartels.
Marcelo Pecci, whom friends and relatives hailed as a “hero” and a “patriot” on Friday during a march in his honor in Asuncion, was murdered on the beach on the island of Baru in Colombia on Tuesday. He was staying there on honeymoon with his recently pregnant wife, Colombian journalist Claudia Aguilera.
Before his trip, Mr Pecci was preparing the trial of Brazilian Waldemar Pereira, an alleged member of the powerful criminal organization Primeiro Comando Capital (PCC), accused of the murder of a journalist in 2020.
It was one of the judge’s feats of arms in the unit of Attorney General Sandra Quiñonez, of which he was considered the right arm. He had also been at the heart of high-profile cases, such as the investigation into the kidnapping and assassination of the daughter of ex-president Raul Cubas in 2005, or the arrest in 2020 of the ex-star of the Brazilian football player Ronaldinho, for using falsified passports.
“Marcelo was a straight, honest, serious, irreproachable man,” described his fellow lawyer and ex-classmate, Jorge Kronawetter. “He was very orderly, very responsible for his obligations,” recalled his father Francisco, 83, in a moving speech on Friday.
– “I will not live like you” –
Son of a good family – his father is himself a retired magistrate – Marcelo Pecci, eldest of three siblings, had studied at the renowned San Andres College in Asuncion. “As a child, he already had a strong, direct character, without half measures,” said prosecutor Luis Piñanez, a former classmate.
Linear career, law degree with honors from the Universidad Nacional, Marcelo Pecci began his career as a magistrate in 2000, first in labor law, then as a judge overseeing the legality of investigative acts, before specialize in the fight against drug trafficking and money laundering.
“He liked to undertake things. He created the first criminal laboratory in a provincial town” in Santa Rosa (north), noted the prosecutor Piñanez. And founded the volunteer fire brigade of this city, with the tribute of environmental offenses.
Engrossed by his work, the prosecutor, with his face devoured by glasses with large black frames, also had his pleasures and frank passions.
Like football, which he practiced regularly with high school alumni. Or aviation, which saw him participate, to make a museum, in the restoration of an old aircraft – a Convair 240 – of the defunct Lineas Aereas Paraguayas. Frequently, he tweeted about his aeronautical or footballing emotions.
However “he told us: I will not live like you, dad. Because we live very stressed”, remembered his father on Friday, torn between pain and pride. “It was his job. And they killed him because he disturbed bandits and evildoers!”
The destination of his honeymoon was known. “It was a somewhat ingenuous attitude, to make his actions known”, meditated for AFP Arnaldo Giuzzio, ex-Minister of the Interior and head of the Anti-Drug Secretariat, suggesting that the crime could have been ordered from Paraguay. . And convinced that the assassination “is a message sent to other prosecutors, to other judges, to the anti-drug police”.
“How can I, as a prosecutor, as an investigation director, motivate the investigators when we are faced with this?” wondered Marcelo Pecci about corruption, in his interview with Telefuturo. A question that resonates even darker after his assassination.