Paraguayan radio journalist Gerardo Ceferino Servían Coronel was shot to death in Ponta Porã, a small town on the Brazil side of the Brazil-Paraguay border.
Patrick Linares, the Brazilian detective in charge of the case, told CPJ, “It was an execution. Two people rode up to him and fired six or seven shots in his back and head.” The gunmen then fled the scene, news reports said.
Servían had worked in the past for several radio stations in and around Pedro Juan Caballero, the main city on the Paraguayan side of the border. In early 2015, he began hosting a morning news show at Ciudad Nueva FM, a small community radio station based in Zanja Pytã, a small Paraguayan town around 10 miles from Pedro Juan Caballero, according to two local journalists who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.
The journalist’s brother, Francisco “Kiko” Servían, a journalist with Radio Amambay on the Paraguayan side of the border, told The Associated Press that his brother had not reported receiving any death threats but that “in this area of the country it’s normal to silence journalists with gunshots.” He later said “everything pointed toward a political question,” according to the Paraguayan daily ABC Color, and cited the journalist’s critical reports about the mayor of the town, Marcelino Rolón, who was up for re-election later in 2015.
Days after the murder, the mayor’s office put out a press release that denied any involvement in Servían’s murder, according to the Paraguayan daily Ultima Hora.
Brazilian police told CPJ they had established no motives for the murder and had no suspects. Linares said that more than a dozen men were investigating the case. He said they were evaluating closed-circuit television footage and had reached out to police on the Paraguayan side of the border to share information. Linares added that the investigation was hampered by a culture of fear among local citizens in the area.
“No one wants to speak on the border,” Linares told CPJ. “Everyone is afraid of repercussions. That’s normal with every case we have–especially with homicides.”