On July 5, 2012, an unidentified gunman on a motorcycle shot Valério Luiz de Oliveira at least four times outside his offices at Rádio Jornal 820 AM, where he hosted a sports program, news reports said; he died at the scene.
Oliveira was known for his critical commentary on Rádio Jornal and the independent television broadcaster PUC TV regarding the management of the local football team Atlético Goianiense, according to those reports.
Less than a month before the killing, Atlético Goianiense’s directors had sent a letter to PUC TV and Rádio Jornal informing both outlets that their employees were prohibited from entering the club’s premises. The letter described Oliveira as a “persona non grata.”
Manoel de Oliveira, a well-known sports commentator and the journalist’s father, said he believed his son’s death was related to his reporting and that he had "lost his son because of football," the TV station Globo reported. Lorena Nascimento de Oliveira, the journalist’s wife, said he had told her he was concerned by problems he had with people involved with the sport, the Globo report said. She did not offer further details.
The management of Atlético Goianiense released a statement condemning the murder and calling for a full investigation. "Luiz was known for his commentary, which at times angered some sectors of the club, but on the other hand, his strong opinions also informed the club’s decision-making and helped Atlético grow," the statement said.
According to multiple news reports, an investigation by the Goiás state civil police was concluded in February 2013 and identified five men as the alleged perpetrators:
- Former vice-president of Atlético Goianiense Maurício Borges Sampaio, the alleged mastermind, who allegedly ordered the killing in retaliation to Oliveira’s critical reporting of the football club
- Military police officer Ademá Figuerêdo Aguiar Filho, the alleged shooter
- Military police officer Djalma Gomes da Silva, an alleged accomplice
- Urbano de Carvalho Malta, an alleged accomplice and a former employee of Sampaio
- Marcus Vinícius Pereira Xavier, a butcher and an alleged accomplice.
In March 2013, the Goiás State Public Prosecutor charged the five men for Oliveira’s murder, according to news reports. In August 2014, the Second Criminal Court in Goiânia decided the accused should face trial by jury, reports said.
Starting in 2014, the suspects’ trial was repeatedly delayed for various reasons, including multiple appeals from defense attorneys, several decisions by the Goiás Court of Justice, a judge withdrawing from the trial, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
On November 9, 2022, a Goiás state jury convicted and sentenced four men in connection with Oliveira’s murder after a three-day trial, according to reports and statements by the court and prosecutor’s office.
The court sentenced Sampaio to 16 years in prison for masterminding the killing, and sentenced Aguiar Filho to 16 years and Xavier and Malta to 14 years each for planning and carrying out the crime, according to those sources.
Da Silva was acquitted, and the Goiás state prosecutions’ office filed an appeal for a new trial, according to news reports and Oliveira Filho.
Oliveira Filho told CPJ via messaging app that the four men sentenced to imprisonment for Oliveira’s murder were not in prison as of late 2022 while appealing the decision.
CPJ emailed Atlético Goianiense’s press office and the lawyer representing Malta, Aguiar Filho, and Silva, but did not receive any reply.
Luiz Carlos da Silva Neto, Sampaio’s lawyer, replied to CPJ’s emailed request for comment by sending three legal petitions—a complaint against the case’s prosecutors, another against the judge, and a petition to the Goiás Court to replace the judge—but did not answer CPJ’s questions. Sampaio has denied involvement in the killing.
According to news reports, Xavier confessed to participating in Oliveira’s killing but later changed his testimony, and the other four accused denied any participation. In a 2022 interview, Xavier’s lawyer said he did not commit any crime.