Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July 2014, 14:54 GMT

Journalist murdered in Rio Grande do Norte because of his reporting

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 21 October 2010
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Journalist murdered in Rio Grande do Norte because of his reporting, 21 October 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4cc67333c.html [accessed 24 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

A suspect has reportedly confessed to murdering local radio host and politically committed blogger Francisco Gomes de Medeiros because of something the journalist reported. Gomes was shot five times as he left his home in Caicó, a town in the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte, on the night of 18 October by two men on a motorcycle.

The two gunmen fled the scene immediately after the murder but one of them, João Francisco "O Dão" Santos, was arrested last night and is said to have admitted to shooting Gomes because his reporting had led to Santos getting a longer jail sentence in 2007 for his role in a hold-up. Santos served an 11-month sentence.

Investigators are not however convinced by the motive Santos gave and suspect he may have been the hit-man for an organised crime group.

A crime reporter as well as a presenter on Radio Caicó, Gomes had recently written about organised crime in his blog and had accused local politicians of being involved in a crack-for-votes swap during the first round of the general elections on 3 October.

Gomes said he began getting threats after writing about this issue on 29 September. In his last post on Twitter, Gomes also criticised the lack of media attention being paid to paedophilia cases involving priests.

Although Brazil has risen in the latest world press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders released yesterday, it continues to be a dangerous country for journalists who cover organised crime, drug trafficking and corruption, especially in the north and northeast, where these problems are particularly serious.

Until very recently, 2010 had seen a relative fall in cases of violence against the Brazilian press but the Gomes killing came just 48 hours after reporter and newspaper owner Wanderley dos Reis was murdered in the state of São Paulo..

Aged 46, Gomes was married and had three children. His murder sent a shockwave through Caicó and an estimated 30,000 people attended his funeral.

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