Brazil: Journalist and Blogger Executed in São Luís, Maranhão

[All external links in Portuguese except when otherwise stated]

On Monday night, April 23, 2012, Brazilian journalist and blogger Décio Sá was executed by at least two shots to his head inside a bar in one of the most crowded parts of the city of São Luis, in the northeastern state of Maranhão. Blogger Candido Cunha explains:

Segundo testemunhas, ele estava sentado quando um homem caminhando apontou uma arma e atirou duas vezes contra a cabeça do jornalista, que morreu na hora. Depois, o matador saiu caminhando e fugiu.

Witnesses said he was sitting when a man walking pointed a gun and shot twice against the head of the journalist, who died instantly. Then the killer walked away and fled.
Print of Décio's personal blog, with his last post

Print of Décio's personal blog, with his last post

And adds:

Décio Sá era repórter do jornal O Estado do Maranhão. No seu blog pessoal, colecionava milhares de acessos e algumas polêmicas pelo estilo crítico dos seus textos e dos assuntos que explorava. Ele dedicava o trabalho a cobrir a política do Maranhão e seu blog era o mais acessado no estado.

Décio Sá was a reporter for the newspaper O Estado do Maranhão. In his personal blog, he collected thousands of hits and some polemics by the critical style of his texts and subjects explored. He dedicated his work to cover the policy of Maranhão and his blog was the most accessed in the state.

Sources differ, some say he was shot twice, other that he was shot three times and also up to six shots, four in the head and two in the back.

He was at the Avenida Litorânea (Coastal Highway), one of the most important and crowded arteries in the city of São Luis, which is described by blogger and journalist Rogério Tomaz Jr, on Twitter:

@rogeriotomazjr: Litorânea é um dos principais espaços de lazer de São Luís. (em tese) Há viaturas da polícia circulando o tempo todo! Execução lá é surreal!

@rogeriotomazjr: Litorânea [Avenue] is a major leisure facilitie in  São Luís. (in theory) There are police cars circling the whole time! An execution there is surreal!

The execution itself, in a crowded place, with clear political content, is worrying enough says the police officer Caetano Pacheco. However, online debate also addressed Décio Sá's ties with the Sarney family, which has ruled the state for decades: José Sarney [en], head of the family is currently the president of the Senate, in Brasília, and his daughter, Roseana Sarney [en], is the governor of Maranhão.

Twitter user Arthur Santos from São Luis, recalls:

@arthurxside: nesse ponto é importante lembrar que Décio Sá era profundamente ligado à família Sarney.

@arthurxside: At this point is important to remember that Décio Sá was deeply attached to the Sarney family.

Though he believes it is unlikely that the Sarneys would have been connected to Décio Sá's death, he developed an alternative theory and posted it on Twitter.

Décio worked for O Estado newspaper of the Mirante Group – a communication network owned by Sarney family encompassing radio and TV stations affiliated with Globo Network [en]. He blogged on the Blog do Décio and constantly attacked powerful political figures in his state.

Rogério Tomaz Jr adds:

@rogeriotomazjr: Crime organizado do Maranhão, que deve a Sarney sua perpetuação há décadas, faz mais uma vítima. Desta vez, um jornalista.

@rogeriotomazjr: Organized crime in Maranhao, which owes its perpetuation to Sarney for decades, has another victim. This time, a journalist.

Historian from Maranhão, Wagner Cabral (@wagner_cabral), says that “violence and murder against rural workers is a commonplace in Maranhão… As is the violation of human rights” and adds:

@wagner_cabral: Agora a violência alcança novo patamar quando blogueiro ligado à oligarquia é assassinado na capital… a sensibilidade da sociedade explode

@wagner_cabral: Now the violence has reached new heights when a blogger linked to the oligarchy is murdered in the capital … the sensitivity of society explodes

Journalist Ricardo Noblat posted on Twitter and on his blog a picture of Decio's body just after the execution, and the same was done by the Mirante group, who posted a picture of his body on its homepage. The initiatives to link or put the picture of the journalist's body on the homepage of a site/blog were heavily criticized on the Internet.

Journalist Rogério Tomaz Jr challenged Noblat to “list ONE convincing argument to justify posting photos of corpses of people executed on his blog” and asked Décio's family to sue him.

According to Noblat's Twitter account, the gun used for the execution was .40 caliber, for the exclusive use of the police.

International NGO Reporters Without Borders, puts Brazil in 99th position in the ranking of press freedom


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