Brazilian journalist who denounced corruption shot to death

New York, May 7, 2007—Brazilian journalist Luiz Carlos Barbon Filho, known for investigative reporting that exposed political corruption, was gunned down on Saturday evening in the southern state of São Paulo. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Brazilian authorities today to thoroughly investigate the murder and bring those responsible to justice.

“We offer our deepest condolences to Luiz Carlos Barbon Filho’s family, colleagues and friends,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We call on Brazilian authorities to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into Barbon’s murder, find all those responsible, and punish them with the full extent of the law.”

At 9 p.m. on Saturday, Barbon was sitting with two friends at a bar terrace in Porto Ferreira, 142 miles (228 kilometers) from the city of São Paulo, when two hooded individuals riding a motorcycle approached, reported the Brazilian press. Witnesses quoted in the local media said that one of the masked assailants stepped off the motorcycle and shot Barbon twice at close range, with one shot hitting the journalist in a leg and the other in his abdomen. According to press reports, the journalist was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Barbon, 37, was a columnist for the local dailies Jornal do Porto and JC Regional, and he contributed to the local radio station Rádio Porto FM. Police Chief Eduardo Henrique Campos told reporters that investigators are looking into Barbon’s journalism as the main motive. Campos added that Barbon was generally critical of local politicians in his commentary, making it difficult to pinpoint a specific story or area of coverage.

In 2003, Barbon uncovered a child prostitution ring, which resulted in the arrest and sentencing of four businessmen, five local politicians, and one other person, a waiter, the national newspaper O Globo reported. Only the waiter is still in jail, according to local press reports.

Cátia Rosa Camargo, the journalist’s wife, said that her husband had continuously received letters and telephone calls threatening him with death, according to international and Brazilian press reports.

Brazil is the 12th most dangerous country in the world for the press with at least 14 journalists killed in direct relation to their work since 1992.<br>