A Brazilian people’s jury, after two days of trial, declared three military policemen and a businessman guilty for the murder of journalist Luiz Carlos Barbon Filho, in the city of Porto Ferreira, in the southeastern state of São Paulo, Brazil.
The decision was announced by judge Cassiano Ricardo Zorzi Rocha, on the night of March 27, 2010. According to the police, the 37-year-old journalist was shot by two men on a motorcycle on May 6. 2007, while sitting in front of a bar. Barbon contributed to the media outlets Radio Porto FM, “Jornal do Porto” and JC Regional.
Police sergeant Edson Luis Ronceiro, police captain Adélcio Carlos Avelino and businessman Carlos Alberto da Costa were sentenced for murder, constitution of a criminal group, and the attempted murder of Alcides Catarino, also known as Paquito, shot in a separate incident on the same day of the murder, with the same gun.
All three were sentenced to 18 years and four months in prison. The soldier Paulo César Ronceiro, also involved in the crime, was not charged for the constitution of a criminal group.
According to the state prosecutor’s office, the murder was a response to articles the journalist had been publishing regarding irregularities amongst local policemen, authorities and businessmen.
At the time it occurred, the murder was classified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an attack on freedom of expression.
In August, 2003, Barbon exposed a scheme of underage prostitution involving four businessman, five deputies and a waiter from the city. At the time, they were arrested and accused of taking part in parties with underage people on a farm on the Mogi Guaçu river. The case had nationwide repercussions.
Police sergeant Edson Luís Ronceiro was found guilty of handling the weapon soon after the crime and of assisting in the group’s escape. César Ronceiro was found guilty of driving the motorcycle that transported Carlos Avelino, who was found guilty of coordinating the crime. Alberto da Costa was found guilty of owning the weapon used in the crime.
A fourth policeman, Valnei Bertoni, who is suspected of shooting the journalist, is due to go on trial separately.
The criminals had previously been arrested on March 4, 2008. In January 2009, Barbon’s wife, Kátia Camargo, entered a witness protection program, since she had been receiving threats.