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