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Bahia State announces it will make amends to murdered journalist's family

(ABRAJI/IFEX) - The state of Bahia has announced that it will compensate murdered journalist Manoel Leal's family with R$100,000 (approx. US$56,000). Leal was murdered in 1998, in the city of Itabuna.

The announcement was made on 21 September 2009 by Governor Jaques Wagner in a ceremony that recognised the state's responsibility in the case.

The governor noted that the discussion about the role of the state in acts of violence is a controversial topic, but said that, in this case, the state was making a gesture that demonstrates its concern over the harm caused by political persecution.

The compensation and the ceremony were recommendations issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organisation of American States (OAS), which considered Bahia State to be responsible for the crime because it failed to guarantee the journalist's safety or properly investigate the crime. This is the first time that a Brazilian state has implemented a recommendation issued by the IACHR to make reparations for a journalist's death because it failed to guarantee his security.

Leal was shot six times while opening the gate to his house in Itabuna. The journalist was killed one month after he started publishing a series of reports denouncing irregularities in then former mayor Geraldo Simões' government. Leal was the owner of the "A Região" newspaper, which opposed the government of Fernando Gomes, the mayor in power at the time of the assassination.

Although several people accused of the crime have been arrested so far, it remains unsolved. Leal's son, Marcel, said that one of the perpetrators of the crime was arrested, but that those who gave the orders for the murder still need to be identified.

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