Five suspects arrested in murder of Brazilian editor

New York, July 8, 2011The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the arrest on Saturday of five suspects in the murder of Brazilian newspaper editor, politician, and blogger Edinaldo Filgueira, who was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen on June 15 in the town of Serra do Mel in the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte.

Filgueira, 36, founder and director of the local newspaper Jornal o Serrano, was leaving his office at night when he was shot six times by three men on a motorcycle, according to the Brazilian press. He died at the scene. Filgueira was also the regional director of the ruling Workers Party (PT) and wrote a blog on which he criticized political adversaries.  

A joint force of federal and local police seized several weapons and large quantities of ammunition in the arrests, and said that the suspects belonged to a gang of contract killers, the local press said.

According to local press reports, Filgueira had recently published a critical poll on the performance of the local government on his blog, after which he received death threats. The police said they believe the crime was motivated by Filgueira’s journalism, according to the press

“We welcome the arrest of suspects in the murder of Edinaldo Filgueira,” said CPJ Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. “Brazilian authorities must now ensure that all those involved in the slaying, including the masterminds of his murder, are brought to justice.”

Lethal violence against the press has been on the rise in Brazil this year, with two other Brazilian journalists killed and a blogger shot and wounded. Newspaper owner and journalist Valério Nascimento was shot to death on May 3 outside his home in Rio Claro, Rio de Janeiro state, CPJ research shows. In April, Luciano Leitão Pedrosa, a radio and television journalist known for his critical coverage of local authorities and criminal groups, was shot in Pernambuco state. In March, critical political 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.

CPJ’s Impunity Index shows that five journalists’ murders have remained unsolved over the past 10 years. Brazil returned to the index after dropping off a year ago. While Brazilian authorities have had success in prosecuting journalist murders, winning several convictions in recent years, the country still sees persistent anti-press violence.