Crime reporter Francisco Gomes de Medeiros was killed on Monday 18 October when he was gunned down outside his home by an assailant on a motorcycle.
Radio journalist and popular blogger Medeiros – who went by the pseudonym F. Gomes – was shot five times in the city of Caico, north-western Brazil at around 9.p.m on Monday night.
Medeiros, 48, who worked for Radio Caico, contributed to the Tribuna do Norte newspaper and wrote a popular blog, fgomes.com.br, had received several death threats, many of them after he broke a story on vote-rigging in the run-up to Brazilian general elections, held on 3 October. The story reported that local politicians were bribing voters with crack cocaine.
On Wednesday 20 October, local authorities confirmed they believed the killing to be linked to Medeiros’ work.
According to the Associated Press, police have arrested a former prisoner, Joao Francisco dos Santos, who confessed he killed Medeiros because he felt that coverage of a robbery he committed in 2007 convinced the judge to sentence him to 18 months in jail instead of the seven months he expected. However, police are continuing their investigations despite the confession.
He is one more victim of the violence committed against journalists that seek to tell the truth to society,” Emanuel Soares Carneiro, president of the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television Stations said in a statement.
IPI Press Freedom Manager Anthony Mills said: “We urge the authorities to investigate this killing swiftly and thoroughly, and to bring the killers to justice. Brazil may not be the world’s deadliest country for journalists but IPI’s Death Watch statistics indicate that 18 journalists have been killed there because of their work over the last decade. This is a sustained murderous trend that must be halted.”
Brazil, despite improving economically and democratically has had a consistently bad record for press freedom and journalists’ safety; at least one journalist has been killed every year since 2001.
In its 2008 World Press Freedom Review, the International Press Institute reported that the relationship between the administration of President Lula and the media was tense. Journalists faced censorship and a barrage of litigation, while those investigating corruption and drug trafficking, particularly in the country’s interior, continued to be targets of violence.
In an annual review of its Death Watch statistics published in the World Press Freedom Review 2009, Brazil was found to be the 10th most dangerous country for journalists to work in for the decade 2000-2009.
Medeiros is the second journalist in Brazil to be killed this week. Wanderley dos Reis, owner of Jornal Popular News, a local free newspaper covering the Ibitinga area in Sao Paulo state, and a reporter specialising in politics and urban infrastructure, was shot in his home on Saturday 16 October after three men burst in and took him and another man in the house hostage. He died of his injuries in hospital the next morning.
Police are still investigating his murder, which has not yet been linked to his work. Police have ruled out robbery as nothing was taken from the house as well as political motivations. Popular regional news site Araraquara.com has reported that Reis’ death may have been linked to his sexuality.