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A Brazilian newspaper editor was brutally gunned down Monday, June 10, in a city in the Rio de Janeiro state, according to local and international reports.

Police indicated that the murder may have been an attempt to silence the paper’s “combative” reporting,” Brazilian police investigators told Sao Paulo newspaper Estadão

José Roberto Ornelas de Lemos, editor of the newspaper Journal Hora H, and son of its owner, was shot 44 times in the evening of June 10 by four masked assailants at a local bakery in Nova Iguaçu, the second-largest city in Rio de Janeiro state.

The lead investigator in the case, Marcos Henrique Alves, said June 11 that police were “working with the hypothesis that this crime was relating to the activities of the newspaper, which featured numerous reports on [official] irregularities and corruption.”

Ornelas de Lemos’s brother, Luciano, told Estadão that he agreed with the police’s suspicions. Luciano Ornelas de Lemos said that, “[Hora H] is very polemical. It reports critically on police, organized crime, and politicians. There were frequent threats against it, and there were always suspicious cars roving nearby.”

According to the front page of Hora H, as of June 10, police in Nova Iguaçu had identified four suspects in the case. Carlos Orlando Messina Vidal “Gringo,” Luciano Martiniano Da Silva “Pezão,” Marcelo Santos Das Dores “Menor P” and Luiz Claudio Machado “Marreta” were all wanted in connection with the case. All four have previous connections to the drug trade.

Ornelas de Lemos is the fifth Brazilian journalist killed this year, and according to the International Press Institute’s (IPI) Death Watch, Brazil is by far the deadliest country in the Western Hemisphere for the media in 2013. A total of 10 journalists have now lost their lives in Brazil because of their profession since the start of 2012.

A bill currently pending before the Commission for Public Security and Combating Organized Crime in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies would allow Brazil’s federal police to intervene in investigations into crimes against journalists in which there has been an “omission of inefficiency” on the part of state or local authorities. IPI urges urgent passage of measure 1078/2011.

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