Less than two weeks after a journalist and his girlfriend were shot dead, another reporter in Brazil was killed by unknown assailants, raising fears the South American country is becoming an even more dangerous place for the media.
Paulo Rodrigues, editor of the Mercosur News website, died in Ponta Para, in the southern Mato Grosso do Sul state, at around 11:30 pm (10:30 am local time, February 13) after being shot several times by two men on a motorcycle, the website said.
"Initial reports indicate that the crime against the journalist could be politically motivated, but police do not rule out other theories," said the site.
Rodrigues, 51, was also the editor of the Jornal da Praca newspaper.
Meanwhile, Brazilian police are still investigating the death of journalist Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes and his girlfriend, both from the Rio de Janeiro state. The couple was kidnapped on February 8 at their house in Barra do Pirai, taken to another area – the “coyote road” – where they were shot dead. The reasons for this murder are also unknown.
The state's journalist syndicate called on authorities to "quickly move to insure that the crime is solved and the guilty parties are punished."
Lopes, 50, was the editor of the website Vassouras na net, which criticised local politicians, judges and police.
"We are saddened by the killing of Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues," Carlos Lauria, senior Americas programme coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
"The murders of two journalists in such a short time cast a chill on the Brazilian press and make it imperative that authorities fully investigate the crimes, determine the motives, and prosecute those responsible."
A controversial journalist
Randolfo was known for reporting on corruption cases and accusing local authorities of fraud. He had already been sued for defamation as he proudly admitted on his facebook page.
“I was sued for defamation hundreds times by hundreds of thieves who I denounced in my articles, and I never lost. I am considered unbeatable at court”, he wrote.
“He had such a large volume of enemies that it was difficult to know where to start” said congressman José Mario Salomon Omena.
Press freedom, corruption and impunity in Brazil
In 2011, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) pointed out that five journalists’ deaths had not been properly investigated. The Reporters without Borders 2011 index has ranked Brazil 99th after falling down 41 places.
Randolfo said he wanted to fight corruption “corruption should be considered an obnoxious crime (an attack against humanity), and punished with minimum sentence of six years in jail in a closed country”.
Last December, Transparecy International annual global Corruption Perceptions Index for 2011 ranked Brazil 73rd out of the 183 countries they surveyed.
Source: AFP, CPJ, reports