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Radio journalist covering criminal racquet, political corruption survives assassination attempt

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF condemns the recent murder attempt against João Alckmin, host of the programme "Showtime" on Rádio Piratininga, who was injured when an unknown assailant opened fire on him in São José dos Campos, in São Paulo state in southeast Brazil. His injuries are not life-threatening.

Alckmin, aged 55, came under fire as he walked his dog in the city centre on 22 November 2007. His dog attacked the gunman, who fled on a motorbike, leaving the journalist with neck, arm and back injuries. Several witnesses had a clear view of the gunman's face.

For the past five years the journalist, who is in hospital and under police protection, has been investigating the criminal control of gaming machines and collusion on the part of certain police officials. His daughter said that her father had received scores of anonymous threats both by phone and in the post.

"This murder attempt could be linked to the many revelations made on air by Alckmin about the gangs controlling gaming machines in the region, made even more likely by the fact he was the intended target of a similar shooting in July this year," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"We urge the authorities to rapidly investigate and hunt those responsible for the attack. Despite progress in press freedom, Brazil is still plagued by violent physical attacks against and murders of journalists, sometimes implicating the police," it added.

It is the second time Alckmin has been the intended target of a shooting in 2007. The lawyer Rodrigo Duenhas was mistaken for the journalist and shot in the neck, while traveling in a car with the wife of Alckmin, the lawyer Tânia Lis Tizzoni Nogueira, on 5 July. Duenhas is still convalescing.

João Alckmin is a cousin of Geraldo Alckmin, former governor of São Paulo state and an unsuccessful candidate in the 29 October 2006 presidential election.

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