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Brazilian radio reporter survives shooting

This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 31 March 2016.

Brazilian radio journalist Jair Pereira Teixeira, who reported on crime and corruption in Forquilha, a city in northeastern Ceará state, survived after being shot on Sunday, according to news reports. Police arrested two suspected attackers Monday.

"We condemn the shooting of Jair Pereira Teixeira, and call on authorities to prosecute all those responsible and ensure that the journalist can continue his work without fear of reprisal," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas, in New York. "The ability of Brazilian journalists to report the news is being undermined by violence, with Brazil being one of the 10 most dangerous countries in the world for the press."

Teixeira, who uses the radio name Jair Kovalick, was shot three times in the arm and back in a local bar, police chief José Fernandes Vieira Junior told CPJ. Two assailants shot Kovalick before fleeing on a motorcycle at around 7 a.m., police and news reports said. The 45-year-old journalist, who had gone to the bar with a friend after attending an Easter celebration on Saturday night, was taken to hospital. His wounds were not serious and he was released Monday, reports said.

Kovalick, who has been a presenter at Rádio Pioneira for around eight years, took a break for three months late last year after he was threatened, the radio's sound engineer Joaquim Farias told CPJ. In a telephone interview, Farias said the journalist had been warned to lie low. "Someone sent him the message to shut his mouth," Farias said.

He returned to Rádio Pioneira in February to present a two-hour show each night called Rasga Kovalick, (Rip them one, Kovalick.) During the show, which is broadcast in 45 municipalities in and around Forquilha, Kovalick took calls from citizens who had complaints about public security issues and corrupt politicians, Farias said.

"[Kovalick's style] is dramatic and direct, he doesn't mince his words," said Farias. "That's why people like him. And that's why bandidos [thugs] don't like him."

In an interview broadcast on his station from his hospital bed Monday, Kovalick said he had received anonymous threats leading up to the attack, according to a local blog.

Police chief Vieira Junior said Kovalick recognized his assailants at the time of the attack. Police arrested two suspects-- Bruno Ilário de Sousa, 26, and a 17-year-old, according to the official police report. Both confessed to participating in the attack and said they targeted him because he named them as drug traffickers on his radio program, Vieira Junior said via telephone.

Vieira Junior said, "One is in jail and the other is in a young offenders' institute ... We have 30 days to finish our investigations and then the public prosecutor's office can formally file charges."

The attack marked the second time in less than a year that a radio journalist was shot in Ceará state. Gleydson Carvalho was killed last August while presenting a program on Radio Liberdade FM in Camocim. Despite some progress in combatting impunity for crimes against journalists, Brazilian journalists continue to face enormous threats. Last year, Brazil was the deadliest country in the Americas for journalists, and CPJ research shows that 36 journalists have been murdered in direct relation to their work since 1992.

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