Brazilian blogger found decapitated in Minas Gerais state

New York, May 20, 2015–Brazilian authorities must fully investigate the murder of a Brazilian blogger, identify the motive, and bring the killers to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The decapitated body of Evany José Metzker was found on Monday in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, according to news reports.

“We condemn the brutal murder of Evany José Metzker and urge Brazilian authorities to leave no stone unturned in investigating this crime and all possible motives,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s Americas senior program coordinator. “The ability of local journalists to report the news is clearly being undermined by deadly violence against the Brazilian press.”

Police, responding to an anonymous phone call, found Metzker’s body in a ditch just outside the town of Padre Paraíso, in the northeast of Minas Gerais, according to local news reports. His head had been cut off and was found 100 meters from the rest of his body, according to press reports. He was half naked and his hands were tied behind his back, the daily O Globo said. He still had his wallet, watch, and ring.

Francisco Couy, an officer with the local coroner’s office, told CPJ by phone that Metzker was probably killed on Wednesday or Thursday. The officer also read out details of the case in a YouTube video.

Metzker, 67, wrote a blog called Coruja Do Vale, which focused on general political news and official wrongdoing in the impoverished north and eastern parts of Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s biggest states. The blog reported news such as arrests made at police roadblocks, parking violations by local authorities, and community interest stories, according to CPJ’s review of its content.

The journalist’s wife, Hilma Chaves Silva Borges, told CPJ that they lived in the town of Medina, but that Metzker had traveled to Padre Paraíso about three months ago to do some investigative work, about which she did not provide further details. “He was doing investigative journalism in a region that is very dangerous,” Borges told CPJ. “There are lots of murders here. I think that the motive–given the barbarity of his murder–was because he hit on something. He investigated mayors, politicians, cargo robberies, prostitution,” she said.

According to some local news reports, Metzker had been investigating a child prostitution ring that was active in the area. A May 9 post on his blog featured an image of a Wild West-style gunslinger with the words, “Welcome to Padre Paraíso.” The caption below reads: “Here there are no rules or laws.”

Fabrícia Noronha, the lead investigator in the case, told CPJ that authorities were pursuing two lines of investigation. “One is that it was related to his work as an investigative journalist, and the other is a possible crime of passion,” she said. She did not provide further details.

The Minas Gerais Union of Professional Journalists issued a statement calling for the murder to “be rigorously investigated” and the perpetrators held to account.

Independent bloggers in provincial capitals and towns who cover crime and corruption are particularly at risk in Brazil, according to CPJ research. News bloggers have grown influential in the country, thus becoming the newest targets of those who want to muzzle the press, CPJ research shows.

Brazil has seen a sharp increase in lethal anti-press violence in recent years, according to CPJ research. At least 14 journalists have been killed in direct retaliation for their work since 2011, CPJ research shows. Brazil’s poor record of impunity adds to the violence and intimidation. The country was ranked 11th on CPJ’s 2014 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free.

  • For more data and analysis on Brazil, click here for CPJ’s special report on Brazil.