• April 2012
    M T W T F S S
    « Mar   May »
  • Pages

  • Marginalia

  • Accumulations

  • Advertisements

Gunned Down in Maranhão

iG  — Brazil –reports: After a journalist is assassinated death squad-style with a standard-issue police weapon, other journalists report receiving threats of violence.

The death of journalist Décio Sá, a political reporter at the Sarney political clan’s Estado do Maranhão and author of the widest read blog in the state, has led to a state of panic among journalists there, exposing systematic troubles once deemed isolated occurences. Threats to freedom of the press in the state are much more common than thought.

In the last three years alone, a number of journalists and publications suffered censorship or pressures in the attempt to limit press freedom. In 2010, reporter Itevaldo Júnior, political editor of “O Estado” and author of a blog covering the state judiciary,was forbidden from mentioning the name of judge Nemias Nunes Carvalho after an accusation surfaced according to which the judge bought a farm from a fugitive from justice who had benefited from the judge’s ruling in his case. A year before that,  another court ruling obliged O Jornal Pequeno, an anti-Sarney publication, to remove a report on Operation Faktor that cited the name of Fernando Sarney.

Last year, reporter Carla Lima, of the Estado do Maranhão was assaulted by the security guards of the mayor of São Luís, João Castelo (PSDB). The Estado takes an oppositionist stance toward the adminstration there.

So-called «bloggers» are among the most commonly threatened. Some have received anonymous calls and messages threatening them with death over notes posted to their sites. Blogger  Caio Hostílio is currently battling 86 law suits brought by politicians and public officials targeted for criticism by the blog. He was the foremost critic of the state military police strike last year.“With the death of Décio, we realize that death threats can turn all too real”, Hostílio says.

Reporter Marco Aurélio D’Eça, police reporter at the Estado, has also been a frequent target of threats. A defendant in six law suits, D’Eça says that the death of Décio has obliged all journalists to review their work habits and daily routines. “I am not feeling too secure. When a motorcycle approaches my car, I am afraid something is going to happen,” he says.“If they can kill Décio, a right-hand man of Sarney’s, what will they do with the small fry?”said another political blogger, Marcelo Vieira.

After the death of Décio Sá, at least two other journalists have been threatened with death.Neto Ferreira received a message from an Internet user mere hours after the murder. The two cases have been denounced by state public safety secretary Aluísio Mendes. Prior to the assassination of Sá, Mendes already had information on threats to other journalists of Maranhão.

Regarding the federal police Operation Faktor,

Operation Faktor, previously known as Boi Barrica, is investigating Fernando Sarney, for suspicion of irregular campaign finance practices for the gubernatorial candidacy of Roseana Sarney in Maranhão in 2006. Before the elections, he is suspected of having  raise BRL 2 million in cash. The term «Boi Barrica» refers to a legendary folklore troupe sponsored by the Sarney family. The operation had to be renamed after the musical group Boizinho Barrica complained.

Fernando Sarney was indicted for criminal conspiracy, financial mismanagement, money laundering and fraud. He denies all the charges.

As part of the operation, federal police recorded calls indicating the practice of nepotism by José  Sarney when he intervened to hire his grandson’s girlfriend. …

In 2011 justices of the Superior Tribunal de Justiça  threw out the evidence presented, judging it to have been obtained illegally. As a result, the case is practically starting over from square one.