Heleno Fragoso

Heleno Cláudio Fragoso is one of the most notorious and outstanding criminal lawyers and jurists in the history of the legal profession in Brazil. He was born on February 5, 1926 in Nova Iguaçu (RJ), the son of Luciano de Souza Fragoso and Felícia Ayres Fragoso.

The death of his father when he was just two years old led Heleno to work as a teenager. In 1951, he graduated in Law and opened his law firm the following year. At the age of 32, he published his main work, “Lessons of Penal Law”.

With his thesis “Conduta Punível” (Punishable Conduct), at the age of 35 - still little known - he defeated a judge from the Court of Justice of the Federal District in the competition for the position of Professor of Criminal Law at the National Law School, now the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

During the military governments that were established after the 1964 coup, Heleno acted permanently on behalf of the politically persecuted in the Federal Military Courts and in the General Investigation Commissions. He was the lawyer who filed the collective habeas corpus that freed the young college students gathered in Ibiúna (SP) at the National Student Union Congress (UNE) in 1968.

Heleno Fragoso also defended, among other famous cases, the owner of the newspaper “Correio da Manhã”, Niomar Moniz Sodré Bittencourt, who had attacked the dictatorship in an editorial; the historian and writer Caio Prado Junior; Catholic priests; and Stuart Angel Jones, murdered by the military regime at Galeão Air Base in Rio de Janeiro. He also worked on behalf of the family of journalist Vladimir Herzog, who had been tortured and killed in in 1975 at the 2nd Army in São Paulo. Heleno also took part in the second jury for the murder of socialite ngela Diniz, as an assistant prosecutor, resulting in the conviction of the accused, Doca Street, and the definitive refutation of the “legitimate defense of honor” thesis then commonly used in cases of femicide.

The notable criminalist was vice-president of the Federal Council of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), a federal OAB councilor and vice-president of the OAB Section of the former State of Guanabara, as well as a full member of the Brazilian Lawyers Institute (IAB) and a member of its Superior Council.
For his courageous and uncompromising work in defense of human rights and the politically persecuted, Heleno Fragoso was kidnapped from his home in 1970 by unidentified agents and disappeared for two days. At the time, he was vice-president of the OAB-Guanabara.

Throughout his career, he was awarded the titles of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Coimbra (Portugal), full professor of Criminal Law at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) and at Candido Mendes University (UCAM) and a lecturer at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). He wrote 14 books on criminal law and was vice-president of the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva (Switzerland) and of the International Association of Criminal Law (AIDP) in Paris (France).
Heleno Fragoso died in May 1985, in Rio de Janeiro, at the age of 59. At the time, he remained a practicing lawyer.


Film: Lawyers against the Dictatorship: For the sake of Justice

Time and History - Portraits the Life of Jurist Heleno Cláudio Fragoso

Documentary Heleno Fragoso - Advocacy and Courage

Alerj Especial - Heleno Fragoso

Solemn Session at Alerj in honor of Heleno Fragoso