11 October 2012
Source: Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo – Abraji
(Abraji/IFEX) – October 10th, 2012 – André Caramante, reporter from Folha de S.Paulo, one of the major Brazilian newspapers, has left the newsroom after being threatened by retired police colonel Paulo Adriano Lopes Lucinda Telhada (known as Colonel Telhada) and people linked to him. The harassment started in July 2012, after Caramante published a brief article about Telhada, who was a candidate in the Sao Paulo city council elections. The colonel used to characterize civilians killed by the police as “vagrants” and encouraged violence against outlaws.
Telhada has called on his supporters and electors to contact Folha de S.Paulo and attack Caramante. Many messages were sent through Folha‘s social networks, blogs and website. In early September, the harassments moved from the website and became threats to the reporter’s family.
Up until November 2011, Colonel Telhada commanded the ROTA (Rondas Ostensivas Tobias Aguiar), a special Police force in Sao Paulo state. ROTA is considered a violent group, which since the 70’s has executed several alleged suspects without clear evidence. In October 2012, Telhada was elected city councilman in Sao Paulo.
With Folha‘s support, Caramante has stopped working in the newsroom. He keeps writing stories regarding public security and human rights from a distance, and his family has left their home.
On October 10, the Secretary of Justice of Sao Paulo state offered to include Caramante in a witness protection program, and the state’s Chief of Staff has instructed the Police Internal Affairs division to do an investigation into the threats.
Abraji considers Caramante’s situation unacceptable, and urges a quick and independent investigation of the case, in order to allow Caramante and his family to return to their regular day-to-day life. The reporter’s work on human rights has been and is a remarkable public service.