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Brazil27 July 2006

Municipal councillor beats 73-year-old freelance journalist to death

Reporters Without Borders voiced horror today on learning that Ajuricaba Monassa de Paula, a 73-year-old freelance journalist and member of the local opposition, was beaten to death in public in Guapirimim (in Rio de Janeiro state) on 24 July by a municipal councillor he had criticised. Monassa was affiliated to the Brazilian Press Association (ABI).

“This is an especially cowardly and repugnant murder,” the press freedom organisation said. “It also highlights the incredible contempt in which politicians sometimes hold the local press. We support the ABI’s appeal to Rio de Janeiro state governor Rosinha Garotinho for a thorough investigation to establish the exact circumstances of this murder and ensure that it does not go unpunished.”

The attack took place when Monassa was on a central square in the town of Guapirimim having a argument with a close relative of Osvaldo Vivas, a municipal councillor he had accused of questionable administrative practices. A martial arts black belt, Vivas himself then intervened and began hitting Monassa until he collapsed. He was rushed to the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries.

Monassa began his career in journalism working for the Rio de Janeiro communist daily Imprensa Popular. He later became a labour inspector and ran a shop in Guapirimim, but continued to write for magazines and websites. He was a constant critic of the municipal government, accusing it of lacking in transparency and breaking promises. His views were shared by many other residents. About 1,000 people blocked a road in show of protest against the local authorities earlier this year. Monassa would have turned 74 on 5 November.

In a letter to Rio de Janeiro’s governor, ABI president Maurício Azêdo voiced concern that “the murder will be covered up and Ajuricaba Monassa’s killers will remain unpunished.”

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