São Paulo, April 24, 2018–Brazilian authorities should conduct a swift and credible investigation into the drive-by shooting of radio host Hamilton Alves in Rondônia state and bring his attackers to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Alves was driving from work in the city of Jaru to his hometown of Ouro Preto do Oeste on April 20 when, at approximately 2 p.m., two people on a motorcycle drove alongside him and fired at least six bullets at his Chevrolet S10 pickup, according to reports on the station’s website and Valney Calixto, the police officer in charge of the investigation.
The journalist was hit at least four times in the mouth and chest before his car veered off the highway and crashed, according to reports and pictures from the scene republished on the news website Anoticiamais.
Alves underwent surgery, first in the local hospital and then at a hospital in the state capital, Proto Velho, Calixto said.
“Authorities in Rondônia must conduct a thorough investigation into the attack on Hamilton Alves and bring those responsible to justice,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna from New York. “Reporters in Brazil’s rural states face deadly threats simply for informing their audiences, and authorities must act to show that such attempts to silence journalists will not be tolerated.”
“He is a very combative journalist and it is logical that we are focusing our investigation on that side of things,” Calixto told CPJ. “He had no personal disputes that we know of so we are focusing on issues related to his work.”
The journalist’s colleague Rangner Andrade said his friend is known for addressing controversial themes but had never mentioned being threatened before.
Alves, who declined to speak to CPJ, told his colleagues that the attack would not cause him to alter his work.
“Nothing has changed, it just gives me more energy to work, I am a guy who is not afraid of speaking the truth,” he said in an interview with his employer, Nova Jaru FM, after the attack. “I have talked with my family; if I die because of my work then I have fulfilled my mission as a journalist. Police are investigating and I am sure they are going to find the people who ordered the killing and carried it out and arrest them.”
For the past five years, Alves worked as an anchor at the Jaru-based radio station. The journalist presented a daily talk show, “Abrindo o Jogo,” during which he took calls from listeners who related examples of corruption and featured news stories by Andrade.
“He talks about them [corruption accusations] and says what other people won’t say,” Andrade told CPJ by phone.
Alves’ show airs from noon until 1:30 p.m. in more than 20 state municipalities.
This is the second shooting in Rondônia that CPJ has documented this year. In January, reporter Ueliton Bayer Brizon was shot and killed as he drove his wife to work in the city of Cacoal, CPJ documented at the time. CPJ is still investigating to determine whether journalism was the motive for his murder.