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Brazil5 June 2003

Journalist murdered in São Paulo state

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders today voiced its concern about the 3 June death of journalist Melyssa Martins Correia (picture) of Oeste Notícias in Presidente Prudente (a town in São Paulo state), in a murder that appears to have been prompted by the daily’s coverage of a criminal organisation.

Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard asked Sao Paulo governor Geraldo Alckim in a letter to personally ensure that the murder was thoroughly investigated and that journalists were protected.

Martins Correia, 23, the editor of the newspaper’s cultural supplement, was shot in the head at point-blank range. Still alive when found by police, she died while being rushed to hospital.

The killer fled by commandeering a car and getting the driver to take him to the neighbouring state of Mato Grosso do Sul. On the way, he reportedly told the driver, Fábio César Padoves, that he had been paid to kill the journalist, and that the murder of a judge, Antonio José Machado, in March was also a paid hit. Oeste Notícias had covered the judge’s murder extensively, blaming it on a São Paulo criminal organisation known as Primero Comando da Capital or PCC, whose activities have often been the subject of reports in the newspaper.

Oeste Noticias’ editor, Adolfo Padilha, said that, a week before her death, Martins Correia had covered a promotional event in a supermarket reportedly owned by PCC member. Police raided the supermarket the same evening and closed it down the next day. Padilha said he suspected the PCC may have thought Martins Correia went to the supermarket to get information and on their activities and to denounce them.

The police superintendent in charge of the investigation, Cacildo Galindo, has said theft may have been the motive for her murder, as her mobile phone and purse were taken.

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