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Brazil: Penal Code Amended to Cover “Lightning” Kidnappings

(Mar. 30, 2009) On March 24, 2009, the Brazilian Federal Senate approved a bill criminalizing a new type of crime currently being practiced in Brazil, the “lightning kidnapping” (sequestro-relâmpago). The crime is characterized by the kidnapping of a person for a short period of time, while the criminals try to obtain, from the victim or his relatives, what is usually a small sum of money.

According to the bill, the punishment imposed on someone who commits such a crime will vary between 6 and 12 years of imprisonment, but may be increased to 12 to 24 years if the victim is hurt. If the victim dies as a result of the crime, the punishment is increased to 24 to 30 years in prison.

The proposal was previously approved by the Chamber of Deputies in May 2008 and will now be forwarded to the President of Brazil for his approval. (Aprovado no Senado Projeto que Tipifica o Crime de Sequestro-Relâmpago, O GLOBO ONLINE, Mar. 24, 2009, available at