Brazilian officer confirms police involvement in the killing of two journalists in Vale do Aço

On Friday, April 19, the chief of police in Minas Gerais confirmed the participation of police officers in the killing of two journalists in Vale do Aço, reported the website R7. Members of the civil and military police are under investigation for the killings.

During a press conference in Ipatinga, Officer Cylton Brandão da Matta said that they had identified the suspects. Two police officers were put on leave, reported the newspaper Estado de Minas.

Shot to death on March 8, Rodrigo Neto de Faria, 38 years old, had an unedited dossier with information about alleged crimes committed by police death squads in the region, according to the newspaper. Slain photojournalist Walgney Carvalho, who was killed 37 days after his colleague, took the pictures that accompanied the investigation.

After the killings, two police reporters with the newspaper Vale do Aço of Itapinga, a local publication, showed signs of self-censorship.

"The staff in the field, even at others publications, are afraid and worried," Breno Brandão, editor of the newspaper, told Folha de São Paulo. The newspapers have struggled with an exodus of journalists covering crime and the police, leaving many vacancies unfilled, according to Folha.

Other journalists in the region have been the target of threats. To protect other press workers, police increased patrols near the home of one of them, according to the website Portal dos Aços. The Working Group on the Human Rights of Brazilian Communication Professionals said the risks journalists face in Vale do Aço should be evaluated, reported G1.

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.