Radio commentator shot and wounded in Brazil

New York, November 26, 2007—Brazilian radio host João Alckmin, who reports on corruption in eastern São Paulo state, was shot twice on Thursday; he is in stable condition. The Committee to Protect Journalists today calls on Brazilian authorities to investigate the attack.  

Alckmin, host of the weekly talk show “Showtime” onlocal Rádio Piratininga, was walking his dog at around 6:30 p.m. in the city of São José dos Campos, 50 miles (80 kilometers) from the state capital of São Paulo, when a man riding a motorcycle approached him, he told CPJ. The assailant shot Alckmin in the neck and abdomen and sped away, according to family members. The journalist was taken to a local hospital, where he had a bullet removed from his neck. Alckmin’s family members who spoke to CPJ said he is in stable condition.

For more than five years, Alckmin has denounced the alleged involvement of local police with slot machine operators in São José dos Campos. Slot machines are illegal in Brazil. Alckmin told CPJ that he has received threatening letters and telephone calls over the course of several years.

 “We are appalled by this attack on João Alckmin and wish him a speedy recovery,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Journalists outside the metropolitan areas of Brazil who investigate crime and corruption are particularly vulnerable. We call on Brazilian authorities to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation into last week’s shooting.”

In early July, Rodrigo Duenhas, a lawyer who worked with Alckmin’s wife, was shot and wounded in the neck when entering her car. Alckmin, who was usually picked up by his wife at the time of the attack, told CPJ he believed the attack was aimed at him. The local police claimed that Duenhas had been shot during an attempted robbery.
Alckmin’s wife told CPJ that several people witnessed Thursday’s attack. Police spokesman Fábio Joaquim said that a task force of 15 officers is investigating the crime. However, Joaquim told CPJ that he was unable to give specifics about the investigation.

Two other journalists have been shot this year in Brazil. In May, unidentified individuals gunned down Luiz Carlos Barbon Filho in the small city of Porto Ferreira, 142 miles (229 kilometers) from São Paulo. In his last radio report, Barbon accused several people connected with the local government of corruption. He had said on the air that they should be held accountable if anything were to happen to him, the Brazilian press reported. There has been no progress in the investigation into his murder.

In September, Correio Braziliense reporter Amaury Ribeiro Jr. was shot and wounded in the abdomen while investigating a story on organized crime in the outskirts of Brasília, Brazil’s capital. Four men were arrested shortly after the attack. Police said the shooting was not linked to the journalist’s work, but Ribeiro told CPJ he believed he was targeted for his reporting.