Valério Nascimento, a journalist involved in local politics, was gunned down Tuesday at the entrance to his home in Rio Claro, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. As a journalist, he had covered an alleged corruption case just a few days before the shooting, but the motive is not yet known.
“Nascimento’s murder, which took place on World Press Freedom Day, is a reminder that Brazil is still a dangerous country for journalists despite recent legislative progress and efforts to combat impunity,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “He is the second journalist to have been gunned down this year while a third journalist, a blogger, only just survived a murder attempt.”
The press freedom organisation added: “We pay tribute to Valério Nascimento and we urge those investigating the case to carefully examine the possibility that he was killed in connection with his work as a journalist. We also urge them to move quickly.”
"Brazilian authorities must thoroughly investigate Valério Nascimento's murder, determine if it was work-related, and bring those responsible to justice," said Carlos Lauría, senior coordinator for the Americas with New York-based press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "We are alarmed by a series of violent attacks this year targeting journalists who report on official corruption."
The police say that so far they know nothing about the circumstances of Nascimento’s murder aside from the fact that he was shot twice, in the head and back, right outside his home. As well as owning and editing the local newspaper Panorama Geral, Nascimento headed a local residents’ association and had been a candidate for municipal councillor in both Rio Claro and the neighbouring municipality of Angra dos Reis.
On April 29, his newspaper ran an article about alleged irregularities implicating the mayor of Bananal, which also neighbours Rio Claro although it is part of São Paulo state. The police officer in charge of the investigation, Carlos Matos, was quoted by the daily O Globo as saying he thought the murder was politically motivated. Matos added that Nascimento had published other stories about the mayor of Bananal.
Nascimento was killed less than a month after Luciano Leitão Pedrosa, a reporter for Radio Metropolitana FM and programme producer on local TV Vitória, was gunned down on April 9 in Vitória de Santo Antão, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco.
The blogger Ricardo Gama miraculously survived being shot three times in the Copacabana district of Rio de Janeiro on March 23. Pedrosa covered organised crime while Gama’s blog often deals with sensitive political stories.