By Patrick Vanderpool
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Francisco Gomes de Medeiros, a Brazilian crime journalist, was gunned down in front of his home in northeastern Brazil. The murder occurred last Monday and the police have since apprehended a man they believe to be responsible for the shooting. Officials report that Gomes died instantly from five gunshot wounds.
Gomes, who routinely received death threats as a result of his criminal reporting, recently claimed that political candidates were trading drugs for votes in Rio Grande do Norte. Gomes declined to give specific political candidates’ names, and said that the cocaine-for-votes scheme was the work of people running for seats in the state legislature.
Only days after the arrest, police arrested João Francisco dos Santos, claiming that Santos committed the murder. According to the police officials, Santos held a grudge against Gomes because Santos felt that Gomes’ coverage of a robbery that Santos had committed in 2007 convinced the judge to sentence him to eighteen months in jail instead of the seven months that Santos expected.
Although Santos has admitted to the shooting, police are not ruling out that the murder is connected to Gomes’ reports about the political drug trading scandal.
Emanuel Soares Carneiro, president of the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television Stations said in a statement, “[Gomes] is one more victim of the violence committed against journalists that seek to tell the truth to society.”
Gomes’ murder is just one of many in an ongoing battle between the media and Brazilian criminals who wish to silence the truth. One day before Gomes was killed, three men broke into the home of the owner of a small newspaper in Sao Paulo state and shot and killed him. Police were unable to identify any suspects in the shooting.
According to media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists, 20 Brazilian journalists, most of whom exposed cases of corruption, have been murdered between 1994 and 2009. Sidney Silva, who worked with Gomes at Radio Caico, believes that the murder is directly linked to Gomes’ journalistic work. Silva described Gomes as “an excellent person and professional who will be missed.”
For more information, please see:
Radio-Info.com – A Radio Crime Reporter is Gunned Down in Brazil – 22 October 2010
Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas – Journalist’s Confessed Killer Arrested in NE Brazil – 21 October 2010
Latin American Herald Tribune – Journalist Slain in Brazil – 20 October 2010
The Washington Post – Crime Reporter Murdered on Northeastern Brazil – 20 October 2010