Luciano Leitão Pedrosa

Critical Brazilian TV journalist shot dead

New York, April 11, 2011–Brazilian authorities must thoroughly investigate the slaying of radio and television journalist Luciano Leitão Pedrosa, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Pedrosa, known for his critical coverage of local authorities and criminal groups, was shot Saturday night at a restaurant in Vitória de Santo Antão in northeastern Pernambuco state, according to press reports.

Luciano Leitão Pedrosa
Luciano Leitão Pedrosa

At about 9 p.m., a man entered a restaurant where Pedrosa had gone to buy food and shot him in the head, the Brazilian press reported. According to the Recife-based daily Diario de Pernambuco, four shots were fired at Pedrosa, but only one bullet made impact, immediately killing the journalist. The unidentified gunman fled on a motorcycle driven by another individual who had been waiting outside, the press said.

Pedrosa, 46, had presented a program on TV Vitória, “Ação e Cidadania” (Action and Citizenship), for seven years, and also reported for the FM radio station Metropolitana. According to press reports, Pedrosa was known for his critical coverage of criminals and municipal authorities. The Pernambuco daily Jornal do Commercio reported that Pedrosa had received frequent threats, but had never reported them to authorities. The paper did not specify the nature of the threats.

“We urge Brazilian authorities to conduct a timely and thorough investigation into the brutal killing of Luciano Pedrosa and consider his journalism as a possible motive,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Authorities must ensure that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice and guarantee that critical journalists can work without fearing for their lives.” 

A motive for the killing is still being established, the local press said. According to local investigator Maria Bethânia Tavares, at the time of the attack, the gunman announced that the attack was a robbery, press reports said. However, Tavares indicated that work-related motives had not been ruled out given the critical nature of Pedrosa’s reporting. Pedrosa was a harsh critic of the local municipal government, a third motive currently being investigated, Diario de Pernambuco reported.

Pedrosa’s killing was the second shooting of a Brazilian journalist to be documented by CPJ this year. In late March, critical blogger Ricardo Gama was seriously wounded when an unidentified gunman shot him in the head, neck, and chest as he walked in his Rio de Janeiro neighborhood.