Newspaper publisher killed

New York, October 1, 2002—Brazilian journalist Domingos Sávio Brandão Lima Júnior was murdered yesterday afternoon. Brandão was the owner, publisher, and a columnist of the daily Folha do Estado, which is based in the city of Cuiabá, in the central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.

Brandão, 40, was shot at least 5 times by two unidentified men on a motorcycle, according to several news reports. The two men had been waiting for Brandão near the paper’s new offices, which are under construction.

As Brandão was surveying the exterior of the building with an engineer from the construction company, the gunmen approached the journalist, shot him in the chest and head with a 9 mm handgun, and then fled on the motorcycle. Several people witnessed the murder.

In an editorial today, the paper blamed the murder on a “parallel power,” a reference to organized crime groups that have taken over Mato Grosso. The paper attributed Brandão’s death to the paper’s extensive coverage of drug trafficking, illegal gambling, and acts of corruption involving public officials, but also mentioned that the journalist was a businessman who owned construction and publishing companies.

Brandão had not received any threats, according to the newspaper. Police investigators said evidence indicates that his murder was a contract killing, but that the motive remains unclear. No suspect has been apprehended.

“We are saddened by the death of our colleague,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “We urge Brazilian authorities to do everything they can to establish who killed Brandão and to bring those responsible to justice.”

Ten journalists have been killed in Brazil during the last 10 years, including veteran investigative reporter Tim Lopes, who was murdered in June in Rio de Janeiro. The majority of those killed worked in isolated provincial areas of Brazil, and their murders received little attention.