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Brazil23 April 2004

Journalist murdered at the Paraguayan border

Reporters Without Borders expressed its deep dismay after radio presenter Samuel Roman was murdered in Coronel Sapucaia, a Brazilian town on the border with Paraguay.

Roman, 37, was shot dead by two men on 20 April in front of his home on an avenue between twin towns Coronel Sapucaia (Mato Grosso do Sul state, Brazil) and Capitán Bado (Paraguay). Brazilian police who are heading the investigation said they believe four men, riding motor bikes, were involved in the killing.

Two men fired several shots at him as two accomplices waited on the Paraguayan side of the road. The four then fled to Paraguay. Roman apparently tried to flee but was hit in the back by 11 bullets. He was dead on arrival at the local medical centre.

Police Commissioner Antenor Batista da Silva Júnior was quoted by the website as saying he expected the murder case to be quickly cleared up. On 22 April Paraguayan police arrested three suspects, who were immediately handed over to Brazilian police.

According to they were reportedly Brazilians Ricardo Antônio Machado, Fabiano Lucena dos Santos and Luciano Gregório de Lucena. Paraguayan police were already hunting the three for a murder in Capitán Bado on 5 April. One of them reportedly has links with Luiz Fernando da Costa, aka "Seaside Fernandinho", a Rio de Janeiro drug trafficker, who controls cannabis growing in the region.

Roman, a Brazilian national, worked for 20 years in local radio in Amambay province in Paraguay. He was very well known in Capitán Bado. According to the Brazilian website, he owned a station there, Conquista. He presented a phone-in programme called "Voice of the People" on which he invited listeners to comment on political life in Coronel Sapucaia. According to the local press he used it to expose drug trafficking and rampant criminality in the region.

"Since there is a strong likelihood the murder was linked to the journalist’s revelations, we urge you to do your utmost to discover the motives and to identify whoever ordered the killing," said Reporters Without Borders, in a letter to José Orcirio Miranda dos Santos, governor of Mato Grosso do Sul state.

"The arrest of three suspects is very encouraging," the international press freedom organisation said.

"The border zone between Brazil and Paraguay is unfortunately known for its trafficking and contraband, which is dangerous for a journalist to expose," it added.

At the start of April, Roman was questioned by police, who suspected him of visiting an illegal gaming house. The journalist deputised for a municipal councillor in Sapucaia, a member of the Partido Democrático Trabalhista (PDT).

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