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Crime

Brazil judge gags media over activist’s murder investigation

  • Rio’s prosecutor and the branch of police investigating Marielle Franco’s killing asked court to stop TV channel exposing details of the probe
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 10:24pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 10:24pm

A Brazilian judge has forbidden the country’s biggest television channel from broadcasting the contents of investigative documents about the killing of black rights activist Marielle Franco.

Franco, a charismatic city council member in Rio de Janeiro and gay, transgender and black rights activist, was shot dead along with her driver on March 14.

The murder bore the hallmarks of a professional hit and triggered an international outcry.

The TV Globo channel gained access to extracts from investigative reports last week and said it had aired reports on two subjects though “without showing elements that can pose a risk to witnesses and to the investigation” – in keeping with its editorial guidelines.

Rio’s prosecutor and the Civil Police, in charge of the Franco investigation, went to court to stop the channel publishing more.

“Diffusion of contents linked to the investigation is prejudicial, in so far as it exposes personal data of witnesses and harms the investigation,” Rio Judge Gustavo Gomes Kalil said in a ruling published on Saturday night on the O Globo newspaper website.

The newspaper is part of the same corporate group as TV Globo.

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The channel said it would respect the order, but would lodge an appeal as it believed the ruling “seriously violated freedom of the press and the right of the population to information, especially on a case that has elicited great interest in Brazil and abroad”.

Brazil’s Association of Investigative Journalists (ABRAJI) condemned what it termed “censorship”.

In early November, Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann said the government had received “serious accusations” from two witnesses about “a criminal organisation” trying to obstruct the Franco investigation.

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It allegedly involves “public agents from various state entities, militia members and figures from the world of organised crime”, he told a press conference, adding that the witnesses were given police protection.

Franco was an outspoken critic of police brutality in Rio and what she said was the targeting of blacks in its teeming, poverty-stricken slums, or favelas.