A Brazilian journalist who reported on corruption was shot to death on Sunday night near the Paraguayan border in what police say was a possible contract killing, reports IFEX's member in Brazil the Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (ABRAJI) as well as other IFEX members. It was the second murder of a Brazilian journalist in less than week, says ABRAJI.
Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues, known as Paulo Rocaro, was the editor of the local daily "Jornal da Praça" and the news website Mercosul News, and frequently covered local politics. He was driving home when he was shot five times by two gunmen on a motorcycle, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI). He died in hospital the following day.
According to CPJ, the Paraguayan daily "ABC Color" reported that Rocaro had been highly critical of the local mayor, and supported the campaign of an opposition mayoral candidate. The journalist was leaving a meeting with the candidate when he was murdered, the paper reported.
Rocaro lived in a region along the Paraguayan border that has a history of violence and drug trafficking, say the IFEX members. Preliminary evidence suggests the killing was politically motivated, although no other motives were ruled out. Police asked for the video images from security cameras near the location of the crime, say news reports.
In a separate case, on 9 February, the body of Brazilian journalist Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes was found in the Barra do Piraí in Rio de Janeiro state, says ABRAJI. According to CPJ, he was abducted from his home on the evening of 8 February along with his companion, Maria Aparecida Guimarães, and both were shot to death.
As editor-in-chief of the news website Vassouras na Net, Randolfo had frequently reported on local corruption. His most recent article accused local judges and courts of being corrupt and too powerful, CPJ found. According to IPI, Lopes was also being sued for defamation and libel by a judge and a police officer.
Lopes had been the victim of an attack just months earlier. Last July, an unidentified gunman entered the website's newsroom and shot Randolfo five times in the head, which left him in a coma for three days, reports CPJ. He survived and, for his safety, decided to move to Barra do Piraí but did not stop working on his website. No one has been accused of carrying out that attack, reports the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).
Police officers said that the journalist had many enemies. Local official José Mário Salomão de Omena told reporters, "He created such a large volume of enemies that it is even difficult to know where to start."
CPJ documented a rise in lethal violence in Brazil in 2011. Two journalists were killed in Brazil last year in direct relation to their work, and four others were killed in unclear circumstances, says CPJ.
According to RSF, the country has experienced increasing violence against the press and, as a result, Brazil dropped 41 places on RSF's latest global press freedom index.