Brazilian newspaper owner, fourth journalist killed in country this year, was writing about local corruption

Brazilian journalist Maurício Campos Rosa, owner of the newspaper O Gritodied on Aug. 17 after being shot five times. The murder occurred in Santa Luzia, in the metropolitan region of Minas Gerais' state capital. He was the fourth journalist killed in Brazil this year.

The motive may be related to Rosa’s journalistic work, as reported by Radio Jovem Pan. The journalist was investigating corruption involving city councilors and a cooperative responsible for garbage collection.

Carlos Dias Barbosa, editorial director of O Grito, told the radio station that Rosa feared retaliation, despite not having received direct threats.​

Rosa was shot once in the neck and four times in the back while walking to a car that displayed the logo of the newspaper, according to G1.​ News site R7 reported that two men on a motorcycle shot Rosa while he was coming out of a friend’s house.​

The police chief investigating the murder told Estado de Minas that a statement will be given only after the completion of the police investigation, which is confidential.

The Association of Professional Journalists of Minas Gerais urged a rigorous investigation of the crime by authorities.​

“All violence against journalists is an attack on press freedom and society’s right to information,” the association said in a statement. “Each journalist’s death that is not clarified is a stimulus for new crimes. Impunity is unacceptable.”​

The association noted recent cases of crimes against reporters occurred in that state and continue to be unpunished or poorly investigated. Reporter Rodrigo Neto and photographer Walgney Carvalho were killed in 2013 when they were investigating an alleged death squad formed by police officers in the region. Last year, blogger Evany José Metzker, who published news of corruption, was found decapitated with signs of torture.​

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed outrage at the murder and called for an in-depth investigation.​

“Timely and effective investigation is one of the main tools to ensure justice and combat impunity,” said Claudio Paolillo, chairman of IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information. ​

After Rosa’s murder, the newspaper’s site went offline and its fanpage on Facebook ceased to be updated, according to Portal Comunique-se. Rosa, 64, was the founder of the newspaper O Grito, a biweekly publication that was distributed in the city free of charge for more than 20 years.​

Since the beginning of 2016, three other journalists have been murdered in Brazil. The most recent case occurred on July 24 in the state of Goiás when journalist João Miranda do Carmo was hit by seven bullets in the chest. A murder suspect has been arrested.​

In addition to Carmo, radio host João Valdecir Barbosa was gunned down on March 10 while working in the studios of Rádio Difusora AM in São Jorge do Oeste in southwest Paraná. ​

Less than a month later, blogger Manoel Messias Pereira, known as Manoel Benhur, was killed with six shots on April 9 in the state of Maranhão and died en route to the hospital.​

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.