The Public Defender of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (DPE/RS) is acting to ensure the acquittal of two men who are responsible for the theft of expired food that were in the courtyard of a supermarket. The case took place in Uruguaiana, on the western border of Rio Grande do Sul.
According to the police report, on August 5, 2019, the police received a complaint that the pair had entered a restricted area of the establishment, searched the disposal sector and fled the site with goods. The garrison went to the scene, made arrangements and arrested the two men in the vicinity of the establishment, as well as seized the products: about 50 slices of cheese, 14 pieces of pepperoni, nine pieces of ham and five pieces of bacon. All expired products were in the place where they would be crushed and discarded.
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The two men, who remained silent during the deposition, were released after the incident. Later, with the conclusion of the investigation, they were indicted by the Civil Police and denounced by the Public Ministry.
In November 2020, the State Public Defender’s Office, in response to the accusation, claimed the principle of insignificance: “It is important to bear in mind the principle of minimum intervention, from which the Criminal Law should only protect conduct that is harmful to the social environment, without worrying about the so-called trifle crimes. Therefore, the Criminal Law must, effectively, act as ‘ultima ratio’. It should only intervene in relevant cases and of real offense to the legal interest”, quoted public defender Daniela Haselein Arend.
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The DPE/RS claim was accepted by Judge André Atalla, in July 2021. In the decision, he acquitted the defendants. “I understand, however, that in the present case there is no just cause for this criminal action in view of the principle of insignificance. In the present case, the defendants would have stolen goods (foodstuffs with their expiry dates) valued at R$ 50.00, which were duly returned to the owner”, quotes the magistrate in excerpts from the decision.
The Public Ministry, however, appealed the decision to the Court of Justice, alleging, among other things, that “the principle of insignificance and the trifle crime cannot be used as an incentive and fuel for impunity”.
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Last Monday (25), public defender Marco Antonio Kaufmann presented the counterarguments of the appeal made by the MP: “sad times when GARBAGE (expired food) has economic value. In this context, if the mere reading of the police report is not enough for the appeal to be dismissed, nothing more matters to say” defended.
Now, the case will be decided by the judges of the Court of Justice of Rio Grande do Sul.
*With information from the Public Defender of Rio Grande do Sul.
Edition: Vinícius Segalla