CPJ welcomes convictions in Brazilian journalist’s murder

New York, February 6, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes two convictions on Tuesday in the 2012 murder of Brazilian political journalist and blogger Décio Sá and calls on authorities to ensure everyone involved in the crime is brought to justice. Jhonatan de Sousa Silva, who confessed to being the gunman, was sentenced to 25 years and three months in jail, according to news reports. Marcos Bruno Oliveira, who claimed he was innocent, was sentenced to 18 years and three months on charges of transporting Sousa to and from the crime.

Sá, who wrote about politics and corruption for the local newspaper O Estado do Maranhão and on his widely read blog, Blog do Décio, was shot six times while sitting in a bar on April 23, 2012, in the northeastern state of Maranhão. Cezar Scanssette, a journalist at O Estado do Maranhão, told CPJ that Sá had many enemies because of his critical reporting.

In the months following the attack, authorities arrested at least nine suspects who they said were accomplices and plotters and were linked to a loan shark ring that Sá had tied to a local murder in his blog, according to press reports. The suspects included local businessman Gláucio Alencar, accused of being the leader of the ring and of ordering Sá’s murder, and a deputy chief of police, both of whom denied the charges, according to news reports. Alencar and the police officer, as well as the other remaining suspects, currently await trial, according to news reports.

“These convictions are welcome steps toward justice in the murder of Décio Sá, and they follow several positive developments recently in the fight against impunity for journalist murders in Brazil,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Full justice will never be achieved, however, until all responsible parties are brought to justice. We urge Brazilian authorities to continue their investigations and prosecutions up the chain of command, including if there is the possibility of police or political involvement.”

Brazil has recently made substantial gains in the fight for justice. In the last year, convictions have taken place in three other cases, representing significant progress toward reversing Brazil’s long-standing record of impunity in journalist murders–the country was ranked 10th on CPJ’s 2013 Impunity Index. But the progress also comes amid a spike in lethal violence that has made Brazil one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. At least four journalists were killed in 2013, three of them in direct retaliation for their work.