São Paulo, November 7, 2023—Brazilian authorities should investigate a councilor’s October 23 attack on journalist Godofredo Brito while he was reporting and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
Brito was arriving in his car to report on a public paving project in Cocal, a municipality in the northeastern state of Piauí, when councilor Antônio Carlos Camelo de Pinho ran toward him with a knife, tried to slash at him, and punched him, according to multiple news reports and videos published on Brito’s Facebook page.
Antônio Carlos Camelo de Pinho, also known as Carlão, is a city councilor in Cocal and a member of the Workers Party (PT).
Brito, also known as the People’s Inspector, is an independent reporter who covers Cocal news on Facebook and YouTube, where he has a combined 12,000 followers. Brito received stitches to his forehead and filed a complaint with the police the same day, according to those sources and the police complaint reviewed by CPJ.
“The Brazilian police and public prosecutor’s office must investigate this horrific aggression against journalist Godofredo Brito and hold the responsible accountable,” said Cristina Zahar, CPJ’s Latin America and the Caribbean program coordinator. “It’s unacceptable that a public servant such as a councilor uses physical force against a journalist to prevent him from reporting on matters in the public interest.”
Brito currently opposes the Cocal mayor, Raimundo Nonato Fontenele Cardoso, who is also a member of the PT party. Brito ran for state congressman in the 2022 elections as a member of the Liberal party (PL) and lost. Brito is a supporter of former president Jair Bolsonaro, who was part of the PL party in 2022.
Police Chief Mayson Soares has 30 days from October 23 to conclude the investigation and send it to the prosecutor’s office, Cocal prosecutor Herson Luis de Sousa Galvão Rodrigues told CPJ, adding that only then can the public prosecutor’s office have access to the case.
Soares told CPJ that Carlão appeared at the police station to give evidence and was later released because he was not arrested in the act.
The president of the Cocal council, Alci Márcio de Brito Silva Júnior, told CPJ he’s against any form of violence, but the council will only issue an official statement after the conclusion of the investigation, adding that the incident was “personal stuff” between Brito and Carlão.
CPJ’s calls and messages to Brito were unanswered.