Brazilian sentenced to 12 years in prison for 2013 murder of journalist

In Brazil, a country with a history of impunity concerning crimes against journalists, a man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for the 2013 murder of journalist Rodrigo Neto, reporter for newspaper Vale do Aço, in Minas Gerais.

On June 19, Alessandro Neves Augusto received 12 years in prison for Neto’s death and four years for the attempted murder of a friend that was with Neto at the time, according to Hoje em Dia.

Another man, former police officer Lúcio Lírio Leal, was sentenced to 12 years in prison last year for Neto’s murder.

Two men on a motorcycle shot Neto in Ipatinga, Minas Gerais in March 2013.

Neto started working at Vale do Aço the week before, according to CPJ. He was also the host of Plantão Policial for Vanguarda radio. Some of his work incriminated police officers.

Neto frequently received threats related to his work, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

A month after the murder, the Minas Gerais police chief confirmed that police officers participated in Neto’s killing and that of photojournalist Walgney Carvalho, according to local reports.

Carvalho, who was killed on April 14, 2013 in Coronel Fabriciano, Minas Gerais, also worked for Vale do Aço and denounced “crimes involving law enforcement.”

At the time, the Knight Center reported that the president of the Minas Gerais Commission on Human Rights tweeted that Carvalho could have been killed for having information about Neto’s killers.

Neves is also charged with the April 2013 murder of Carvalho and faces trial in August, according to CPJ.

CPJ reported that at least 14 journalists have been killed because of their work since 2011.

It added that there have been six convictions in the murders of journalists in the past two years; yet Brazil ranked 11th worldwide on the organization’s 2014 Global Impunity Index.

Still, the organization said there had been “significant progress in prosecuting journalists’ killers.”

"The murder of Rodrigo Neto has exemplified Brazil's entrenched impunity, and CPJ welcomes every step toward justice in his case," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ senior program coordinator for the Americas.

Hoje em Dia reported that the Public Ministry plans to appeal the judgment in Neves’ case in order to increase the punishment.

Authorities continue to investigate Neto’s murder.

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.