Superior Military Tribunal

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Superior Military Tribunal

The Superior Military Tribunal is Brazil's military supreme court. This judicial body came to prominence in national life after the 1964 military coup. Under a variety of institutional acts and the Constitution of 1967, civilians charged with crimes relating to national security were removed from the jurisdiction of the civilian courts and put under the jurisdiction of this military court. The power of the Superior Military Tribunal even extended to the governors of Brazil's constituent states, who no longer had special forums in which to be tried. This judicial body also was empowered to silence and punish military officers who were critical of the regime.

The use of the military tribunal for trying individuals charged with political crimes was the result of pressure from conservative hardliners angered over the ability of individuals to appeal to civilian courts after being tried by Military Police Investigation panels. Extending the jurisdiction of the Superior Military Tribunal enabled the military regime to toss aside a variety of legal guarantees, especially the right of habeas corpus, and made it much easier for the regime to ignore the rights of political prisoners. A wide variety of regime critics were tried by the Superior Military Tribunal, including intellectuals, labor leaders, politicians, and military officers. The jurisdiction of the tribunal effectively ended in 1978 with a reform package that restored some individual legal safeguards and independence to the nation's judicial system.

See alsoBrazil, Revolutions: Revolution of 1964 .


Ronald M. Schneider, The Political System of Brazil: Emergence of a "Modernizing" Authoritarian Regime, 1964–1970 (1971).

Peter Flynn, Brazil: A Political Analysis (1978).

Maria Helena Moreira Alves, State and Opposition in Military Brazil (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Gaspari, Elio. A ditadura envergonhada. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2002.

Lemos, Renato. Justiça fardada: O General Peri Bevilaqua no superior tribunal military (1965–1969). Rio de Janeiro: Bom Texto, 2004.

Skidmore, Thomas E. The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964–1985. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

                                            Sonny B. Davis