Brazilian authorities are investigating the murder of journalist Evany José Metzker whose body was found decapitated on the outskirts of the town of Padre Paraíso in the state of Minas Gerais on May 18, reported the newspaper O Globo. His body was found with bound hands, naked, and with signs of torture, and his head was found 100 meters from the rest of his body, the newspaper added.
Metzker owned the blog 'Coruja do Vale' (Owl of the Valley) which published general news about politics and alleged illegal activities by the authorities, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
In recent days the journalist had been investigating a prostitution ring targeting adolescents in the region. In fact, Metzker who lived in the city of Medina, also in the same state, had come to Padre Paraíso for three months for a series of investigative reports, the journalist's wife told CPJ. However, his family had no news of him since May 13.
For this reason, one of the lines of investigation for authorities has to do with the "enemies" Metzker had made in the wake of hat had been published on his blog, according to O Globo. However, they have not ruled out that it was a crime of passion.
The Union of Journalists of Minas Gerais demanded that the crime be "rigorously" investigated and punished, and called on the community to unite in defense of press freedom and freedom for professional journalists to practice. "When a journalist is the victim of violence, all of society suffers a blow to his right to be informed," the Union said in a statement.
The Union also stressed the climate of violence in the region as a result of drug trafficking and child prostitution. In fact, el Valle de Jequitinhonha, as the region is known, is one of the country’s poorest regions, reported the newspaper O Estado.
The newspaper added that in the last two years, two journalists have been murdered in Minas Gerais. However, deadly violence against the press has been increasing across the entire country, according to CPJ. At least 14 journalists have been killed since 2011 in Brazil in retaliation for their work, the organization added.
Additionally, there are high levels of impunity for these crimes in the country. Brazil ranked 11th in the 2014 Global Impunity Index that examines countries where journalists are murdered.
CPJ also pointed out the special state of vulnerability of independent bloggers who cover crime and corruption in the country. As the number of bloggers has risen, so has violence against them.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.