Miami (October 20, 2010)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned the murder of journalist Francisco Gomes de Medeiros in Rio Grande de Norte, Brazil, and called on local officials to act promptly to bring the murderers to justice.
De Medeiros, 46, was killed on Monday (October 18) at approximately 9:00 p.m. One of two people on a motorcycle shot him five times outside his home in the Paraíba neighborhood of Caicó, Rio Grande do Norte. Wounded seriously, he was rushed to a local hospital where he died shortly after arrival.
IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, expressed “the organization’s sympathy and consternation at this murder” and urged the local government to “begin a speedy investigation” into the crime that appeared to be linked to the victim’s work as a journalist.
Police detained a suspect who they said confessed to killing De Medeiros in revenge for his news reports exposing drug trafficking. The local press reported that police believe there was also a mastermind, possibly linked to organized crime.
According to De Medeiros’ colleagues his murder might be tied to his accusations of illicit drug trade in the region. Popularly known as F. Gomes, according to local media he was considered to be one of the most respected crime reporters in the state, combating crime through the reports he published daily in his blog. He was also head of the news division of Radio Caicó FM where he hosted the daily program “Comando Geral” (General Command). For 11 years he wrote about politics and police matters for the Diário de Natal newspaper and before that worked for Tribuna do Norte and Gazeta do Oeste. He was married with three children.
Robert Rivard, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, announced that violence against journalists reporting on organized crime will be one of the main issues discussed at the IAPA’s General Assembly in Mérida, Mexico, November 5-9.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. The IAPA Impunity Project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com