10 January 2008

Inter American Press Association calls for probe into Brazil murder


Inter American Press Association calls for probe into Brazil murder


MIAMI, Florida (January 11, 2008)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA expressed outrage at the murder Brazilian cameraman Walter Lessa de Oliveira last week and called on the local authorities to conduct a swift investigation to identify those responsible.


A cameraman for the state legislature’s TV station since its launch in September, Oliveira, 53, was killed last Saturday afternoon in Maceió, capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Alagoas. He also taught at a local journalism school and had worked for 20 years at TV Gazeta, an affiliate of the TV Globo network.  He was a former director of the Professional Journalists Union in his state.


“We regret that once again we are mourning because of violence unleashed against the press,” declared IAPA President Earl Maucker, editor and senior vice president of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We urge the relevant authorities in Brazil to investigate the murder right away.”


Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, added, “Only by showing results and bringing the guilty to trial, regardless of the motives, will we ever put an end to violence and impunity.”


Oliveira was waiting for a bus at a depot in the Maceió neighborhood of Tabuleiro dos Martins when, according to eye-witnesses, he was approached by a man and drawn into an argument.   The man fired four shots at him, hitting him in the head, throat and back.


There are several theories about the motive for the killing, including robbery and Oliveira’s alleged connection to the diversion of Legislative funds which has been under Federal investigation since last month. Local media, however, speculate that he may have been murdered for having taken pictures of a local drug trafficker. None of the theories has been officially confirmed.


According to family members and colleagues Oliveira was a quiet man and had not received any death threat.


His murder came less than a week after that of another congressional employee, Abelardo Fernandes da Rocha, who was killed on January 3.