Brazilian airline founder faces murder accusations


RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — For the second time in a month, Brazilian authorities have asked for a murder indictment against a co-founder of Brazil’s No. 2 airline, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Authorities accuse Nene Constantino, 78, of ordering the 2001 killings of two men in a land dispute near Brasilia. The gunmen have not been caught.

In Brazil’s legal system, police ask a judge to indict a suspect. The judge then determines if charges are filed. Constantino has yet to be charged in either case.

A spokeswoman for the Federal District’s civil police confirmed the request for indictment. She spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.

Constantino is one of Brazil’s wealthiest and most influential business players. His fortune is estimated at more than $1 billion.

A former long-haul trucker who started a bus company in the 1950s that became one of the country’s biggest, Constantino started Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA with his sons. The budget airline began flying in 2001 and quickly made inroads into the Brazilian market.

One of the men allegedly ordered killed was a former driver for one of Constantino’s companies. Officials gave no other details on why the men were killed.

Such killings occur often in Brazil, though mostly in the Amazon region. The Catholic Land Pastoral, a watchdog group, says more than 1,100 people have been killed in land disputes in the past two decades.

Earlier this month, after police asked for the first murder indictment, Constantino said in a statement that he “vehemently” denied any wrongdoing.

Calls to Gol went unanswered and it was not immediately possible to contact Constantino.