Barbon, 37, was shot to death while sitting on a bar terrace
in the southern city of Porto Ferreira, 140 miles (230 kilometers) from São
Paulo. He was known for investigative reporting that exposed corruption in
politics and police.
At 9 p.m., two hooded individuals on a motorcycle approached
Barbon, a columnist for the local dailies Jornal do Porto and JC
Regional, and contributor to the local station Rádio Porto FM, according to
Brazilian press reports. Witnesses quoted in the local media said that one of
the masked assailants stepped off the motorcycle and shot Barbon twice at close
range, with one shot hitting the journalist in the upper abdomen and the other
in his right leg. According to press reports, Barbon was taken to a local
hospital, where he died at 11 p.m.
Captain Adelcio Carlos Avelino of the local police and
officers Valnei Bertoni, Paulo César Ronceiro, and Edson Luiz Ronceiro, were
arrested in March 2008, in connection with Barbon’s murder. The owner of the
gun used to shoot Barbon, local businessman Carlos Alberto da Costa, was also
arrested, according to local news reports. On July 26, 2008, local prosecutor Gaspar Pereira Silva
Junior filed charges against the five men.
Silva told local reporters that his investigation is based
on witness testimonies, forensic
studies, and phone recordings. According to Silva, the owner of the bar where the
journalist was killed had a problem with rogue police officers weeks before Barbon’s
death. Barbon helped the bar owner press charges against the police officers
for extortion and non-action against
cigarette smugglers, and later published a paid notice detailing the facts in the local paper Jornal do Porto, said Silva.
According to Barbon’s colleague, Carlos Augusto Colussi,
Barbon also wrote several pieces for Jornal
do Porto on police corruption in the weeks prior to his murder. But Colussi
told CPJ he was not sure whether Barbon named any of the four police officers
in these stories.
Lawyers for the suspects declined to make a
statement when contacted by CPJ, saying they were not able to comment because
the case is being tried under secrecy.
Barbon had worked as a journalist for 10 years, according to
local press reports. In 2003, he drew wide attention with a report on a local
child prostitution ring, published in the daily Realidade, which he owned. The report resulted in the convictions
of four businessmen, five local politicians, and one other person, a waiter,
the national newspaper O Globo
reported. Due to financial difficulties, Barbon shut down Realidade in 2004. He
ran unsuccessfully for city council the same year.
Cátia Rosa Camargo, the journalist’s wife, said that her
husband had received a constant stream of threatening letters and telephone
calls, according to international and Brazilian press reports. Local media
reported that police advised Camargo and her two children to leave their home
after receiving additional threats.
In March 2010, a court in
charges of aggravated murder and criminal association, the local press reported.
The court also convicted Paulo César Ronceiro and gave him 16
years and four months in prison on charges of aggravated murder. Bertoni was to be tried separately. According to the ruling, posted on the Brazilian Web magazine Consultor
Juridico, Avelino masterminded the crime.