On November 10, 2015, Israel Gonçalves Silva, a radio journalist, was shot dead around 7:30 a.m. in Lagoa de Itaenga, a small town about 40 miles (65km) northwest of Recife, in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, according to local news reports.
The radio reporter was in an electronics store after taking his two children to school when a man opened fire and hit Silva at least twice, once in the arm and once in the neck, reports said. Silva’s belongings were not taken in the attack, and the assailant fled on an accomplice’s motorbike, according to reports that cited witnesses.
Silva hosted the daily show "Open Microphone" on the town’s community station Rádio Itaenga FM. The show, which ran from noon to 1 p.m., took calls from listeners about alleged corruption and malfeasance by politicians and police, his colleague and friend Edilson Gomes dos Santos told CPJ in a telephone call from the station. Silva also interviewed mayors, city councilmen, and state deputies about contentious local issues, Gomes dos Santos said.
Silva, who had worked at the station for five years and was also employed as a municipal guard, would often call out authorities for alleged misdeeds. His outspoken demands for justice brought him several death threats, Gomes dos Santos said.
"He always butted heads with authorities and people would come up to him on the street and tell him he was going to die or that he better be careful because his life was in danger," Gomes dos Santos, who hosts two daily shows on Rádio Itaenga FM, told CPJ. "He reported all threats to the police," he said.
In the weeks after the murder, authorities arrested Henrique Luis da Silva Ferreira who confessed to murdering Silva, and Fábio Ricardo dos Santos Silva, who also admitted to participating in the murder. Authorities also identified a third suspect, Mailson dos Santos Lira, the local press said.
Silva had reported on the group’s involvement in violence and drug trafficking, which angered the group, the press said. A police spokesman said Silva had been threatened previously, according to reports. The official police report sent to CPJ said the men killed Silva in "revenge for the constant accusations made against this group for the crimes they committed."
In August 2018, the Lagoa de Itaenga jury court found the three men guilty of Silva’s murder, the court secretary told CPJ. A judge imposed sentences of 27 years and 6 months for Ferreira; 21 years, 10 months, and 15 days for dos Santos Silva; and 15 years and 5 months for Lira, according to the court and local news reports. The men are serving their terms in the Enio Pessoa Guerra penitentiary, those reports said.