The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the murders of Peruvian radio journalist Julio César Castillo and Brazilian newspaper owner Valerio Nascimento, who were both gunned down in their countries Tuesday in separate incidents.

Castillo was shot to death in Virú on the northwest coast of Peru when four unidentified men stormed the restaurant where he was eating lunch with friends and shot him six times at close range before fleeing.

Host of the programme, “Noticiero Ollantay”, Castillo had received death threats since March following his reports of alleged corruption by local officials. Investigators reportedly said that Castillo’s mobile phone held a message threatening other journalists with death.

Gunmen on Tuesday also shot and killed Valerio Nascimento, the owner of Brazilian newspaper Panorama Geral, which has criticized local authorities in Sao Paulo state.

According to the Associated Press, police confirmed that Nascimento was shot twice in the back and once in the head by unidentified gunmen.

Local media sources said police were investigating the possibility that Nascimento’s death was connected to criticism in his paper accusing the city of Bananal of failing to invest in health and sewage treatment centres.
The paper reportedly had published only four editions, and Nascimento was also reportedly active in local politics.

“I am appalled and truely saddened by the murders of Julio César Castillo and Valerio Nascimento: my condolences go out to their families and colleagues,” said IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie. She added: “What makes these murders even that much more tragic is that while press freedom advocates around the world united yesterday to recognize World Press Freedom Day, these hard-working journalists were being gunned down in their homelands.”

“We encourage the Peruvian and Brazilian governments to act swiftly to find the perpetrators of these crimes so that a strong message can be sent to the entire world, that the murder of journalists will not be tolerated.”

Nascimento’s death marked the second murder of a journalist in Brazil this year. On 9 April, broadcast journalist Luciano Pedrosa was killed in Vitoria de Santo Antao.

Pedrosa, who worked for Metro FM and as a presenter on Vitoria TV, covered crime and news about local authorities. He had received regular death threats, but had not filed a complaint, reports say.

Pedrosa was in a restaurant in the eastern Brazilian town when he was shot by a gunman, who then fled on a motorcycle with an accomplice.