Ex-Treasury Secretary in Brazil Punches and Kicks Journalist after Incriminating Report

Brazilian journalist The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism has informed that on October 21, 2009, Brazilian journalist Fábio Oliva, editor of the newspaper Folha do Norte in Januária city in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, was assaulted at Montes Claros airport.

According to Oliva, the former secretary of the Januária city hall treasury, Fabrí­cio Viana, swore at the journalist and punched and kicked him. Oliva had written a report accusing Viana of fraud in a bidding process.

The journalist was walking toward the airport taxi stop, when Viana came at him from behind and called Oliva by his name. "When I turned around, it was Viana. He swore at me and then punched and kicked me," said Oliva.

An airport guard prevented the two from getting into a skirmish. "I asked the guard to hold him, that I was calling the police. Viana got away from the guard, and fled away in a car," said Oliva.

Viana was detained for 18 days at the Montes Claros prison, after the publication of a report written by Oliva linking him to fraud in a bidding process. The former secretary was allegedly planning to divert around US$2 00,000 from Fundeb (the National Fund for Development and Education).

Viana was released in part because his lawyers alleged he did not represent a risk to witnesses. "Since I am a witness against him in several prosecutions, I believe that the preliminary verdict that set him free will be revoked and he will go back to jail," said the journalist.

Oliva has registered the case and undergone medical examinations. "The day after the incident I reported the attack to the Federal Public Ministry. The public prosecutor from Montes Claros, Alan Versiani de Paula, has appointed a sheriff from the Federal Police (similar to the CIA) to take all the necessary measures, including requesting a copy of the video tape from the airport's security system," said Oliva.

On December 21, 2004, journalist Fábio Oliva, was on his way to the Januária courthouse when he was approached by lawyers (and brothers) Willer, William and Wilson Santos Ferreira, who asked him about an article he had written containing accusations against Willer.

The article stated that Willer had submitted a backdated legal opinion to the city government validating the fraudulent bidding of projects at the Municipal Hospital.

According to Oliva, words soon turned into blows, and Willer pulled out a gun. Oliva said that were it not for Willer's brother who restrained him, Willer would have shot him. Oliva reported the incident to local police in a criminal complaint for attempted homicide.

The reports published by Folha do Norte at that time helped lead to the removal of Mayor Manoel Ferreira Neto, by a unanimous decision of the city council.

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