Décio Sá (O Estado do Maranhão)
Décio Sá (O Estado do Maranhão)

Brazilian journalist Décio Sá assassinated

New York, April 24, 2012–Brazilian political journalist and blogger Décio Sá was shot and killed Monday night in the city of Sao Luis in northeastern Brazil, according to news reports. The journalist was sitting in a bar waiting for a friend when an unidentified man entered, walked to the bathroom, and shot Sá six times before fleeing the scene with a motorcyclist who was waiting outside.

Sá, 42, wrote about politics for 17 years for the local newspaper O Estado do Maranhão and on his personal blog, Blog do Décio, which was one of the most widely read in the state, press reports said. Sá’s blog was known for critical reporting on politicians and corruption, according to Cezar Scanssette, a journalist with O Estado do Maranhão. Due to the nature of his reporting, the journalist had “many enemies,” Scanssette told CPJ. Scanssette said he was not aware of Sá receiving any threats.

Investigators told reporters that the murder was a contract killing carried out by “professionals” who had most likely mapped out the journalist’s daily routine. Police said they would be looking into Sá’s blog as a possible motive for the murder.

“We are deeply saddened by the killing of Décio Sá,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior Americas program coordinator. “Brazil is leading the region in journalists murders this year, a terrible record compounded by a pattern of impunity. Brazilian authorities must fully investigate this crime, determine the motive, and prosecute those responsible.”

The day of his death, Sá wrote on his blog about the trial of gunmen implicated in a murder that was allegedly ordered by a local businessman from a political family. Officials also told reporters they would investigate whether the killing was linked to another case Sá reported, in which a local politician was implicated in a prostitution ring and the murder of a university student.

José Sarney, president of the Brazilian Senate and whose family owns the O Estado do Maranhão, called the crime “an attack on democracy.” Sá is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, and an eight-year-old daughter.

In February, two Brazilian journalists were murdered in one week. No one has been arrested in either case. Brazil appeared for the second consecutive year on CPJ’s Impunity Index.  Last week CPJ wrote to President Dilma Rousseff to express concern about this record and other recent actions taken by the Brazilian government that contradict the president’s expressed commitment to guarantee freedom of expression and make human rights a priority.