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BRAZIL: Columnist shot dead

Friday 5 August 2011 - 1:00am

RAN 43/11 5 August 2011

The Writers in Prison Committee PEN of International (WiPC) protests the murder of Auro Ida, political columnist for the online newspaper Olhar Direto, who was shot dead in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, on 21 July 2011. The motive for the crime is still to be determined but Ida had reportedly been investigating a story concerning local political corruption and had recently received threats in relation to his journalistic work. He is the third print journalist to be killed this year, while two others were murdered in 2010. The WiPC calls on the Brazilian authorities to investigate these murders as a matter of the utmost urgency, and to bring the culprits to justice.

According to PEN's information, Auro Ida wrote an opinion column for the news website Olhar Direto, was a founder of another news site, Midianews, and had also served as the city government's press secretary. The journalist was with his girlfriend in his car in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso state, on 21 July 2011 when an unknown man approached them and asked the girlfriend to leave before shooting Ida dead and fleeing the scene. According to Olhar Direto, Ida had been investigating a story concerning local political corruption. The president of the state legislative assembly said in a statement (Portuguese) that Ida had recently told him that he was receiving threats but did not elaborate on their nature.

Police initially said they were investigating the murder as a crime of passion. The only suspect arrested after the incident was released due to lack of evidence. The journalists' union Sindjor has reportedly called on the federal police to intervene because it is concerned that the local police are not paying enough attention to the possible political element of the journalist's murder.

Two other print journalists have been killed in Brazil this year. Five weeks before Ida's murder, on 15 June, Ednaldo Figueira, blogger and owner of the newspaper O Serrano, was gunned down by three unidentified men as he was leaving work in Serra do Mel, Rio Grande do Norte state. Figueira, who had received several threats in the past, was a leading opponent of the city mayor and had just posted an investigative report on municipal finances on his blog. On 3 May, journalist and owner of Panorama Geral Valerio Nascimento was shot dead outside his home in Rio Claro, Rio de Janeiro.

Three other print journalists were murdered in Brazil in 2010, all in October that year: Wanderley Dos Reis of Popular News, Francisco Gomes De Medeiros of Tribuna do Norte and José Rubem Pontes de Souza of Entre-Rios Jornal.

Please send appeals:
Protesting the fatal shooting of Olhar Direto columnist Auro Ida on 21 July 2011;
Noting that Ida's murder follows that of blogger and O Serrano owner Ednaldo Figueira on 15 June 2011 and journalist and Panorama Geral owner Valerio Nascimento on 3 May 2011, and that three print journalists were also killed in October 2010;
Calling on the Brazilian authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into Ida's murder and all unsolved journalist murders as a matter of urgency, and to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice.

Appeals to:

Federal Minister of Justice
Exmo. Ministro
Sr. José Eduardo Cardozo
Ministério da Justiça
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco "T", 70712-902 - Brasília/DF Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 3322 6817/ 3224 3398
Electronic messages can be send via the Minister's website:
Salutation: Dear Minister

Federal Human Rights Secretary
Secretaria Especial de Direitos Humanos
Exmo. Secretário Especial
Sra. Maria do Rosário Nunes
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco "T" - 4º andar, 70064-900 Brasília/DF - Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 3226 7980
Salutation: Dear Secretary

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Brazilian Embassy in your country. Details of some Brazilian embassies can be found here:

Please send appeals immediately. Check with International PEN if sending appeals after 4 October 2011.

For further details please contact Tamsin Mitchell at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: PEN International, Brownlow House, 50-51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 207 405 0339 email: