The murder of radio broadcaster Jairo de Sousa, 43 years old, in Braganca, in the northeast of state of Para, completes three months this Friday, September 21, 2018, without any suspect being named. To ask for speed in the investigations, Jairo Jose Sousa Jr., 18 years old, son of the broadcaster, said that a demonstration in the city is scheduled for today. Junior, as he is called, helped his father on the radio and has the dream of being a radio broadcaster. “His fighting spirit lives in me. What is wrong has to change. We are always afraid, but the fight cannot stop.”
The two shots that killed his father lifted a veil that covers public and private business transactions in the region. The crime spread fear in other professional colleagues and revealed the existence of a list of four targets marked for death – Sousa was the second name on the list. For twelve years, he wore a bulletproof vest because of the threats received throughout his career at broadcasters in neighboring municipalities and Braganca. That morning, he wasn’t wearing his bulletproof vest.
In his show, which started at 5 am, Sousa made complaints, such as denouncing public works carried out by companies belonging to relatives of mayors and secretaries, the lack of school meals, notices with targeted bids, and a job offer made by the secretary to councilmen in exchange for votes and political support. Hours after his death, a task force was set up in Belem and started the investigation, which is under secrecy.
Sousa had worked with the radio for over two decades and was on his second stint at Perola FM. | Picture: Rafael Oliveira
The case is in charge of the team of the director of the Homicide Division of the Civil Police of Para, Fernando Bezerra, who received the audios of the last two months of Sousa's show, in which he mentioned at least two dozen people linked to the complaints. These people have already been heard by police officers, who are still in due diligence around the city.
Sousa's routine was known to his listeners. He did not hide his arrival times, ten minutes before the show began, as well as the departure from the radio, four hours later. The police are investigating who the mastermind and the sniper, who was in a car parked on a nearby street was. In a video, the killer gets out of the car, walks towards the radio’s building, and then runs back to the vehicle, where two other men are said to be.
The investigation by police officer Dauriedson Bentes da Silva has already identified the existence of a second car that was stopped near the gate that gives access to a staircase – the station is located on the fourth floor of an old building without an elevator. In addition to providing cover for the killer, the car occupants' role would be to identify Sousa.
Jairo Sousa arrived at the place, opened the lock, and went through the gate, putting the lock again. He had climbed only three of the 21 steps of the staircase when he was hit by two shots that entered the side of the abdomen. According to a witness, Sousa ran but did not reach the top of the stairs. The wall and on the floor were stained by blood marks made when the broadcaster became unbalanced and rolled some steps. He still had time to give the keys to the two men who helped him and opened the lock. He was taken to the Santo Antonio Maria Zaccaria Hospital, where he died. The killer used a .38 caliber revolver.
Tim Lopes Program
Sousa's death is the second case investigated by the team of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) within the Tim Lopes Program, funded by the Open Society Foundations. The first was that of Jefferson Pureza, 39, in Edealina, in the state of Goias, executed with three shots to the head while resting on the porch of his house, on January 17, 2018. Six people were arrested.
Councilman José Eduardo Alves da Silva, accused of ordering the killing, and two other men who participated in the negotiation of the crime, await trial. Three minors comply with socio-educational measures: one shot, the other drove the motorcycle, and the third recruited the two to carry out the crime, which cost 5,000 reais plus a revolver 38.
Both cases show a reality of the so-called “Deep Brazil” (“Brasil Profundo”), where the work of communication professionals is at risk, as the tone of complaints against local authorities increases.
“Sousa was a broadcaster who had no limits and denounced authorities, not only in Braganca but in other municipalities, about embezzlement of public money, unfinished public works, and organized crime. He was a walking atomic bomb. He beat hard, without mercy. He used heavy words like calling people tramps, thieves who steal people's money. This created a certain hatred,” said Gerson Peres Filho, general director of Radio Perola FM.
The first reflection of the crime on the radio was to occupy the radio station's time with songs. The shock of his colleague's death made Francy Rocha – who had known Sousa for 20 years – change the profile of the show. “I got scared. In the past, I also made comments against corruption; now, everything has changed. His death was a message to silence us”.
The journey before death
In the show on the eve of his death, the broadcaster warned the listeners that the next day he would reveal the name of the councilman who was negotiating the distribution of the Cheque Moradia, a city housing benefit. The 15,000 reais benefit would be delivered to residents who lost their homes in the May 2018 flood. Some gaps still need to be filled to reconstruct what happened after he left the radio station shortly after 9 am. From there, he traveled 103 kilometers from Braganca to Igarape-Açu, passing through the cities of Capanema, Peixe-Boi, and Timboteua. However, this journey took longer than usual. According to the chief of police Dauriedson da Silva, there is an interval between 9 am and 3 pm, in which it is still not known where the broadcaster was, since he arrived in Capanema, which is 53 km away from Braganca, after 3 pm.
Both on the way and on the way back, Sousa called his ex-wife Cristina Sousa, with whom he lived 18 years and had two children. Even after Sousa's other marriage, five months before his death, the two maintained a good relationship. Sousa had lunch every day with Cristina and the children, then aged 17 and 13, in addition to keeping the ritual of calling her when the show started and ended.
“I asked if everything was okay and if he was wearing a vest, and he said yes. The last time I spoke to him was at 7.49 pm, when he was already in Braganca. We agreed to have lunch the next day”, said Cristina.
She also welcomed another son of the radio host, then 20, from a previous marriage. Altogether, Sousa married three times and had 14 children, both in and out of marriages. In addition to the habit of wearing a vest, he also took another precaution: he changed his car regularly. According to Cristina Sousa, he didn't stay with the same vehicle for more six months. “He received calls from an unknown number. He told me not to answer, and never open the door for anyone I didn't know".
Perola FM is on the fourth floor of an old building in Braganca and shares space with a butcher shop | Photograph: Rafael Oliveira
Sousa, who had already worked at Radio Perola FM, in Braganca, two decades before, returned to the microphone of that radio eight months before his death. Before that, he spent a decade in Capanema, on Radio Princesa, owned by congressman Wladimir Costa, and hosting “Patrolhao 106” show. Sousa was a candidate for councilor in Tracuateua in 2012, had 286 votes, and was not elected.
On the trip on the eve of his death, Sousa said to Cristina on the phone that he had gone to Igarape-Açu “to seek money,” but without giving further details. According to her, the broadcaster left that city with 1,300 reais. Every Friday, he handed in 400 reais for her and her children, in addition to making purchases for the week.
The list and the fear
For those on the above-mentioned list of four targets, fear is present, and care is needed. Reporter Ronny Madson, from Radio Educadora, said he was part of an “investigative group” alongside Sousa, lawyer and councilor Rivaldo Miranda, and businessman Gleidson Veras.
They gathered evidence and documents and made allegations of corruption that were broadcast on radio stations, on social media, and in the state congress meetings. Veras left the city with his family and stayed away for 15 days. “The complaints involve millions of reais. He (Sousa) thought that no one would have the courage to carry out this act of cowardice. In addition to the complaint about Cheque Moradia, some 15 days earlier, he spoke of the lack of school meals and irregularities in their distribution. It was verified that they delivered less than what was listed to be distributed,” said Veras.
The businessman is the author of a complaint against the mayor of Braganca, Raimundo Nonato; the secretary of Urban and Rural Infrastructure, Luciano Jorge Cecim Brito; and businessman Armindo Abreu Freire Pinto, for indications of misappropriation of public resources, with work carried out in private properties, in exchange for favors.
He filed the documentation at the Public Prosecution’s Office of Braganca on January 17, 2018. The complaint dealt with a fact that took place on January 5, when the machinery of the company Rodoterra – owned by councilor Charles “Charlao” Williams Lobato de Oliveira, together with city officials and the Secretary of Infrastructure – paved the condominium owned by Armindo, where councilor Bruno Lima lives.
Another member of the “investigative group,” the lawyer and councilor Rivaldo Miranda, sought authorization from the competent channels to purchase a bulletproof vest and carry a gun. As the only opposition councilman, he collects enemies. On the very night of the wake of Sousa, he was the subject of discussion among members of a WhatsApp group that included from the first lady, Eliena Ramalho, to advisers, secretaries, and chiefs of staff.
Ronny Madson, Gleidson Veras, and Rivaldo Miranda (respectively, in the photo) took precautionary measures after Sousa's murder | Picture: Rafael Oliveira / Editing: Raquel Prado
Some of the messages included excerpts such as “it was supposed to have beaten him there”, “it was supposed to have broken at least one rib”, and even a complaint about who in the group would have “printed this conversation” and sent it to councilman Mirna.
“Sousa's death was a shock. He claimed to receive threats by unidentified phone, but he paid no attention, gave no details. He made accusations based on evidence, on documents,” said Rivaldo Miranda.
The councilman is the author of several complaints against municipal management. In one of them, from 17 July 2017, he asked the Public Prosecutor's Office of Braganca to take measures for the crimes of active corruption, criminal condescension, malfeasance, and administrative impropriety due to the offer of public works in exchange for possible political support.
The complaint cites Tiago Santos Costa, then executive secretary of the mayor's office, and Raimundo Nonato. In an audio file, Costa asked the councilors for the names of their nominees to work on the educational program “Mais Educacao.” In two messages, he emphasized that he needed the names by “no later than 9 am. Because the referral needs to be done right away”. After the repercussion of the case, Costa was transferred to the Department of Education. He is married to the mayor's wife's sister.
In a civil suit of April 2, 2018, Rivaldo Miranda was able to suspend a bid for paving streets in Braganca, in the amount of 2.9 million reais, alleging a fix on the notice. In the item of technical qualification, the bidding company should present a document “of ownership or lease of an asphalt plant established in the Bragantine zone of this state.” In the area of the so-called Bragantine microregion, where 13 municipalities are located, only the mayor's family company has an asphalt plant. The suspended bidding came back months later, without the item questioned in the suit.
Braganca has about 125,000 inhabitants and is 220km from Belém | Photo Rafael Oliveira
Mayor Raimundo Nonato was approached in the city by the Abraji team three times. An appointment was scheduled and canceled the next day. His assistants claimed that he was too busy with activities at the city hall and regretted not being able to comply with the request.
Other complaints heard in the audios of the radio shows that will be analyzed by the police deal with public works in Braganca and neighboring municipalities. Two companies stood out in the complaints: Rodoplan Serviço de Terraplenagem, founded in 2004, and Rodoterra Ltda-EPP, founded in 1995.
The Abraji team had access to documents showing that the current mayor of Braganca, Raimundo “Raimundao” Nonato de Oliveira appeared in the DNA of these companies. In the round of amendments to its bylaws, Rodoterra is currently in the hands of the mayor's children: Adriana Katie Lobato de Oliveira, Arcângela da Silva Oliveira do Rosario, and Charles Williams Lobato de Oliveira.
The first partners of Rodoplan were Arcangela Rosario and sister Patricia da Silva Oliveira. In a document dated September 3, 2004, it appears that, at the time, Arcângela was 20 years old and Patrícia 22, both students and residents of Ananindeua. The company, with a share capital of 400,000 reais, was registered with headquarters in Braganca, in the Vila Cururutuia neighborhood, at the Benjamim Constant, 156, on land next to the mayor's house.
Ten years after the opening of the company, Patricia donated her share to her father, then 68 years old. In the document registered on April 1, 2014, it is also said that her sister Arcangela, who held 1.5 million reais in cash, donated 900,000 of her capital – 600,000 of which to her father and 300,000 for Eliena Caroline Ramalho Dias, 24 years old, qualified in the document as a single businesswoman, but who was already living with Raimundao. That same year, in November, Arcangela, after being married, changed her name in the documentation and transferred the quotas to her father. Thus, Raimundao and Dias became the company's only partners. The registered capital was 3 million reais.
A new change took place on May 28, 2015. Eager for winning the 2016 elections, Raimundao withdrew from the society, where he held 90% of the shares, worth 2.7 million reais. Then, he split his share equally among three people: his wife Dias, grandson Lucas de Oliveira Lima, and Moises Batista de Oliveira Junior, both 19 years old and qualified as entrepreneurs. Dias became the majority partner and administrator of the company.
On June 12, 2017, the company's share capital was 5 million reais, and Dias remained in the company, despite her husband occupying the position of mayor and she, the first lady and secretary of Social Promotion. The situation only changed on September 14, 2017, when she transferred her quotas to Luiz Otavio Maia Costa. This change occurred shortly after Rodoplan won the 16.9 million reais bid from the state government to pave 35.5 km of highway PA 458, on the Braganca-Vila Ajuruteua stretch.
The mayor's relatives alternate among the companies' partners and, when necessary, the partner of one represents the other. On April 20, 2017, Rodoplan signed a contract with the government of Para (contract number 005/2017) for “recovery and asphalt paving of urban roads,” for a total of 40 km, for 14.9 million reais. In the document, Adriana Katie Lobato de Oliveira signs the contract as the attorney for Rodoplan. The same Adriana Oliveira, daughter of mayor Raimundo Nonato, is a partner at Rodoterra, along with two brothers, and is also the mother of one of Rodoplan's partners, Lucas. The young man is now 22 years old. The two live in a condominium in the Coqueiro neighborhood in the capital city of Belem.
Bravado on video
The fact that the company belongs to the mayor's family also yielded a bravado by Raimundao. In August 2017, he complained that the contract number 043/017 for PA 458 had not yet been signed. The work of the company and the State Secretariat of Transport of Para was related to the paving of Highway 458 in the “urban perimeter of Braganca-Vila Ajuruteua with 35.5 km”, for 16.9 million reais. In a video recorded by reporters from the Bragantino Television System (SBT), the mayor complained that he was being boycotted by the state transport secretary and even by senator Flexa Ribeiro.
In his angry speech, Raimundo Nonato said that winning a public tender was not illegal, nor immoral and that Flexa Ribeiro himself was a partner at Engeplan and also won bids, as well as his wife and secretaries, business owners themselves. He claimed to have documents and to be able to prove everything he reported. The rant would cost him a lot. Feeling under pressure, Raimundao, on the following day, recorded a video in which he asked the senator's forgiveness and said that it was all gossip and that he was “hot-headed.” A month later, the order for the execution of the work was signed.
Raimundao was elected with 43.1% of the votes and has occupied the city hall of Braganca since 2016 | Photograph: Rafael Oliveira
In the city of Braganca, both the mayor's claims and other audios and videos have been shared via WhatsApp in several groups. They have also been broadcast on the radio and social media. One of the audio files mentions the mayor, the public works on PA 458, and a supposed 25% bribe for the release of the contract budget.
Young entrepreneurs, mutant companies
In the dispute for federal, state, and municipal funds, companies in Braganca and its surroundings can also accelerate the change of names and even activities to win bids. The killed broadcaster always mentioned two other companies: Terra Forte Terraplanagem and Terra Forte Construcao e Serviço. The young people who present themselves today as business owners are Yann Victor Monteiro Leite and Odivaldo “Dinho” de Lima Leite Filho. They share the similar names of their companies, area of operation, and even the same home address. They are also nephews of Cesar Monteiro, councilman, and ally of Mayor Raimundo Nonato.
The current Torre Forte Terraplenagem was created as Labac - Laboratório Clinica Eireli, on March 3, 2016, with a single owner – Junielson de Jesus Carmo – an activity in the health field and capital of 250,000 reais. Two years later, it was renamed Torre Forte Terraplenagem and changed its business to construction, earthworks, machine rental, and re-urbanization of streets and sidewalks, among others. Junielson transferred the ownership of the company to Yann Victor Monteiro Leite, then 25 years old, on February 5, 2018.
The change had immediate effects. A month later, on March 9, the new company won the construction work for the wall of a school in the amount of 120,400 reais. The speed in winning contracts went on: just 12 days later, the company won the bid for an emergency paving operation in the city, in the amount of 1.3 million reais. Two other contracts arrived on May 11 – one for 126,500 reais for the construction of a retaining wall in a healthcare facility and another for 55,100 reais for the renovation of a school.
The path of Torre Forte Construcao e Servico was similar. It started as RF Pescado Ltda, on October 18, 2011, created by Robson Fernando Ferreira de Sousa and Alice Monteiro de Sousa. They were in their 20s; both appeared in the documents as traders and lived in the same house. With a capital of 100,000 reais, the company's activity was fishmongers, retail of parts and accessories for cars and motorcycles, as well as retail of clothing items.
On December 19, 2013, the company changed its name to Torre Forte Engenharia Ltda EPP, under the trading name of Sapucaia Industria e Terraplenagem. The original partners gave up “of their own free will” their shares to the new owners of the business, the entrepreneurs Odivaldo de Lima Leite Filho, then 26, and Adiel Oliveira da Silva, 38, who lived in the same house, in the neighborhood of Riozinho, in Braganca.
The pair who left the company said they received 50,000 reais each for the transferred shares. The new partners, on the other hand, increased the company's capital to 400,000 reais and started to have other activities, from earthworks to urbanization works. On June 12, 2014, the company's name changed again to Torre Forte Construcoes e Serviço and reduced its capital to 100,00 reais. Leite Filho continued as a manager and partner, with 95% of the shares. Five months later, another change: Oliveira da Silva left the company, and the capital doubled.
On April 14, 2015, Leite Filho transformed the limited liability company into an individual limited liability company (Eireli). The capital was 600,000 reais. Two months later, he transferred the company's address and activity to Maraba, in the southeast of the state, 670 kilometers from Braganca, where he officially returned on January 19, 2017. At the time, his uncle, Cesar Monteiro, had already taken office as a councilman.
The Tim Lopes Program is a reaction by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) to violence against journalists. Whenever there is a crime related to the exercise of the profession, a network of traditional and independent media outlets is activated to follow the investigations and publish reports on the allegations in which the journalist worked until he or she was killed. Currently, the network includes Public Agency, Post Office (BA), O Globo, Poder 360, Ponte Jornalismo, Projeto Colabora, TV Aratu, TV Globo, and Veja.