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Brazil11 June 2007

Newspaper says military police were involved in São Paulo state reporter’s murder

Members of the local military police were involved in the 5 May murder of Luiz Carlos Barbon Filho in Porto Ferreira, in São Paulo state, according to an article in the Folha de São Paulo daily newspaper on 8 June. A contributor to the Jornal do Porto and JC Regional local newspapers, Barbon accused five local officials and four businessmen of sexual abuse of teenage girls in an article in 2003.

The Department for General Inquiries (DIG) has been put in charge of the investigation so that the Porto Ferreira police are not subjected to local political pressure. A regional military police commander, Marli Rossi Silva dos Reis, denied knowledge of any “involvement of the military police in this murder.”

10.05.07 - Local investigative reporter gunned down in São Paulo state

Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay today on learning of the murder of freelance investigative reporter Luiz Carlos Barbon Filho on 5 May in Porto Ferreira, a small town in São Paulo state, and expressed its condolences to his family. Writing for the Jornal do Porto and JC Regional local newspapers, Barbon, 37, made many enemies by accusing local politicians of corruption, and his wife said he had been getting threatening phone calls. He was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle.

“We are shocked by this journalist’s cold-blooded murder, which confirms that Brazil’s local press continues to be exposed to violence,” the press freedom organisation said. “In 2003, Barbon exposed a scandal involving sexual abuse of minors by local politicians and businessmen, and the police think the murder was related to his work. With nine journalists murdered since 2002, Brazil is still a dangerous country for the media.”

Barbon’s allegations against five local officials and four businessmen of sexual abuse of teenage girls was a front-page story in the national media in 2003. Of all the people charged in connection with the case, only one, a waiter who organised sex parties, is still detained. One of the businessmen was pardoned and another is a fugitive. One local official was freed on bail and another was reelected after his sentence was reduced.

Jornal do Porto owner João Roberto Bellini told Reporters Without Borders that Barbon wrote regularly for the weekly. “His articles stirred up controversy and caused waves in the town,” he said. “The political class did not really like his articles as he constantly criticised the authorities. This is regrettable development, one of terrible brutality. This public execution shows that people want to silence the press.”

The police said they still had no clue as to the identify of the two killers, but thought it was a premeditated murder linked to the victim’s work as a journalist.

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