Political journalist murdered in Brazil

New York, July 27, 2011–Veteran political reporter Auro Ida was shot and killed on Friday in the city of Cuiabá in the central west state of Mato Grosso, according to the local press. The well-known journalist had served as the city government’s press secretary, was a founder of the news site Midianews, and wrote an opinion column for another news website, Olhar Direto. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Brazilian authorities today to thoroughly investigate his murder and bring those responsible to justice.

Ida, 53, was in a car with his girlfriend early on Friday morning when an unidentified man approached them on a bicycle, ordered the woman out of the vehicle, and shot the journalist several times, the press reported. The police initially said they were investigating the murder as a crime of passion and that they believed the motive was linked to former boyfriends of one of several young women the journalist was dating at the time, the press said. The only suspect arrested in the case was released for lack of evidence.

Laura Petraglia, a reporter for Olhar Direto, told CPJ that at the time of his death, Ida had been investigating a story concerning local political corruption. The president of the state legislative assembly, José Riva, said in a statement that Ida had recently told him he was receiving threats but did not elaborate on their nature. The local journalists’ union asked the federal police to take on the case because they were concerned that the local police weren’t paying enough attention to the possible political element of the journalist’s murder, the Diario de Cuiabá reported.

“The recent rise in violence against the press in Brazil is alarming,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Brazilian authorities must investigate all possible motives in the murder of Auro Ida.”

Three other Brazilian journalists were killed this year, and a blogger was shot and wounded. Newspaper editor, politician, and blogger Edinaldo Filgueira, 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. Newspaper owner and journalist Valério Nascimento was gunned down 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 Brazilian 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.