Nicanor Linhares Batista

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Nicanor, radio host and owner of Rádio Vale do Jaguaribe, based in the city of Limoeiro do Norte, in the northeastern state of Ceará, was killed by at least two unidentified gunmen at around 8 p.m. while he was recording his daily show "Encontro Político" (Political Encounter) at his station's studios.

According to the daily Diário do Nordeste, which is based in Fortaleza, the capital of Ceará State, a sound operator who witnessed the murder said the gunmen came into the studio, shot Nicanor several times at close range, and fled on a motorcycle. Nicanor was taken to Limoeiro do Norte's public hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.

The Fortaleza daily O Povo reported that "Encontro Político," broadcast on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., was one of the most popular radio shows in the region. According to O Povo, Nicanor was considered a controversial journalist whose hard-hitting commentaries had angered many local politicians and public officials.

Ceará State parliamentary deputy Paulo Duarte was quoted in Diário do Nordeste as saying that he had heard about a plot to kill Nicanor, and that the journalist had received threats. According to Duarte, Nicanor had scheduled a July 1 meeting with him and another state government official to discuss his safety.

Several members of Nicanor's family who gave testimony to the police believe that he was killed for his journalism, O Povo reported. Prior to his death, the journalist had actively supported a mayoral campaign on his show and fiercely criticized rival candidate Maria Arivan de Holanda Lucena on a daily basis.

In October 2003, prosecutors accused Arivan and her husband, federal judge José María de Oliveira Lucena, of hiring the two hit men who gunned down Linhares. In May 2004, at the request of federal prosecutors, a judge from the Brasília-based Superior Tribunal of Justice, the nation's second highest court, indicted the couple. Lucena was formally charged on March 20, 2008, by the Superior Tribunal of Justice, which has the power to try judges, according to local news reports. Arivan asked to be tried with her husband, but in December 2008, the tribunal ruled that she should be tried before a trial court, said local news reports. No trial dates were immediately set.

In December 2008, gunmen Lindenor de Jesus Moura Júnior and Francisco José de Oliveira Maia were sentenced to 26 and eight years in prison respectively for their roles in the killing, according to local press reports. In May 2009, accomplice Cássio Santana de Sousa was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

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