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Latin America

Brazilian blogger investigating child prostitution found decapitated

Minas Gerais journalists union asks federal police to probe crimes against reporters

Evany José Metzker, periodista y bloguero de Brasil
Evany José Metzker, a journalist and blogger from Minas Gerais.

“Welcome to Padre Paraíso. Rules and laws only bother people so we don’t have any of that here.”

Just days after writing these words on his blog, 67-year-old Evany José Metzker was found dead in a rural area outside Padre Paraíso, a town of 19,000 in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

Authorities said he had been tortured and decapitated.

A journalist, Metzker wrote for the news portal Coruja do Vale (Valley owl), a blog filled with ads for local businesses and news about crimes, traffic accidents, concerts and corruption.

The day before he disappeared on May 14, Metzker wrote his last entry about the resignation of a local mayor.

But his colleagues said that at the time of his death, he had been investigating drug trafficking and child prostitution in the Jequitinhonha Valley region, one of Brazil's poorest areas.

The day before he disappeared, Metzker wrote his last entry about the resignation of a local mayor

Metzker, who lived in the nearby city of Medina, had been staying in a hotel in Padre Paraíso for the past three months.

Even though the Minas Gerais Journalists Union believes that Metzker’s investigation into the local drug trade and child abuse led to his death, police have not ruled out other motives.

Valseque Bonfim, another blogger from the area, had dinner with Metzker the night before he went missing. Metzker did not appear nervous nor did he mention he had received threats on his life, said Bonfim.

Kerison Lopes, the president of the Minas Gerais Journalists Union, asked the federal police to investigate the growing number of crimes against reporters in the area because “almost every time some local official is involved in these type of cases.”

Brazil is the third most dangerous country for journalists in Latin America after Mexico and Colombia

In 2013, Minas Gerais was rocked by the murders of two journalists – Rodrigo Neto and photographer Walgney Assis Carvalho – who were investigating police corruption in Ipatinga.

They were both gunned down by someone riding on a motorcycle. A local police officer was convicted of both killings and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The Metzker case is the second violent death of a journalist reported this year in Brazil, according to Reporters without Borders, although different organizations’ figures vary.

Last March, two men shot dead radio journalist Gerardo Ceferino Servian Coronel in Ponta Porã, a town near the Paraguayan border. Servian had worked for several radio stations and at the beginning of the year had begun presenting a news show on a community network.

Another blogger who was working on corruption cases, Marco de Barros Leopoldo Guerra, was found shot dead on a beach in São Paulo last December.

Brazil is the third most dangerous country for journalists in Latin America after Mexico and Colombia, according to Reporters without Borders. However, it overtook Mexico in the ranking in 2012.

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