Journalist killed in central Brazil received threats, family says

Journalist João Miranda do Carmo was killed on the evening of July 24 in the city of Santo Antônio do Descoberto, Goiás state, in central Brazil, reported newspaper O Popular.

According to the publication, Carmo was in his home when four gunmen called him to the gate. Witnesses reported that when the journalist went out to meet them, criminals shot him several times.

Seven bullets hit Carmo in the chest, according to news site G1. According to police, Carmo’s stepson said the journalist had received threats.

"He reported that the victim was known in the city for his work as a journalist and that this may be the reason for his death. He also said that thestepfather had reported being the victim of death threats," a police officer told G1.

João Miranda do Carmo owned the news siteSAD Sem Censura (SAD Uncensored), which publishes local news reports and covers the city's problems.

Sheriff Pablo Santos Batista has not ruled out the possibility that the crime was motivated by Carmo’s journalistic activity, reported G1.

"The preliminary information is that they were at his house and executed him. Let's hear witnesses to see if he was being threatened or if he had any quarrel with someone because of his profession that may have motivated the crime," the sheriff said to the news portal.

Family and friends of the victim are paying homage to Carmo on social networks.

"Shots at close range ... That's what you earned for being the voice where many fell silent, for seeking justice where so many cry injustice, for wanting to make your city a less corrupt place that our Brazil is so addicted to," one user wrote on Facebook.

The National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj) and the Union of Professional Journalists of Goiás condemned the murder and urged the authorities to take preventive measures to protect journalists and press freedom.

"In addition to the police and judicial action required to capture and punish those responsible, it is necessary to take preventive measures by both media companies and the country's security forces to put a stop to this situation," said the entities on a statement. "Fenaj is proposing the establishment of a security protocol that allows the necessary conditions for the exercise of journalism and the guarantee of freedom of expression as well as press freedom in Brazil."

Carmo is the third journalist killed in the country this year. On March 10, journalist João Valdecir Barbosa was shot dead while working in the studios of Rádio Difusora AM in São Jorge do Oeste, in southwest Paraná. Less than a month later, the blogger Manoel Messias Pereira, known as Manoel Benhur, was hit by six shots on April 9 in the city of Grajaú, in Maranhão. He 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.