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Home World News Washington Post World News Brazilian police: remains of British journalist found

Brazilian police: remains of British journalist found

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RIO DE JANEIRO – Federal police said on Friday that human remains found in Brazil’s remote Amazon region have been identified as the property of British journalist Dom Phillips, who went missing nearly two weeks ago along with a Brazilian indigenous expert in a case that caught the world’s attention.

Other remains found at the site near the town of Atalaia do Norte have not yet been identified, but are believed to belong to indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41. The pair were last seen on their boat on the Itaquai River on June 5. river, at the entrance to the indigenous area of ​​the Javari Valley, which borders Peru and Colombia.

“The confirmation (of Phillips’s remains) has been made on the basis of dental research and anthropological forensics,” the federal police said in a statement. “Work is underway to fully identify the remains so that we can determine the cause of death, the dynamics of the crime and hiding the bodies.”

The remains were found Wednesday after fisherman Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, nicknamed Pelado, confessed to killing Phillips, 57, and Pereira, leading police to where the remains were found. He told officers he had used a firearm to commit the crime.

Police also arrested Pelado’s brother, fisherman Oseney da Costa de Oliveira.

The remains had arrived on Thursday in the capital Brasilia for forensic work.

In the area where Phillips and Pereira went missing, there have been violent clashes between fishermen, poachers and government officials.

Federal police said others may have participated in the crime, but organized crime groups do not appear to be involved.

UNIVAJA, the local indigenous association for which Pereira worked, criticized that conclusion. It said in a statement that the investigation had failed to consider the existence of a criminal organization that funds illegal fishing and poaching in the indigenous area of ​​the Javari Valley.

“Therefore, Bruno Pereira became one of the main targets of this criminal group, as well as other UNIVAJA members who received death threats,” the statement said.

President Jair Bolsonaro, a frequent critic of journalists and indigenous experts, has criticized the government for not getting involved soon enough. He previously criticized Phillips in an interview with no evidence that the locals in the area where he went missing did not like him and that he should have been more careful in the region.

His main opponent in the October elections, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said in a statement that the killings are “directly linked to the dismantling of public policies to protect indigenous peoples. “It is also related to the current government’s incentive to violence,” said da Silva, who leads the polls.

Efforts to find the couple were started by indigenous peoples in the region.

Indigenous people who were with Pereira and Phillips have said Pelado waved a rifle at them the day before the couple disappeared.

Official search teams focused their efforts around a spot in the Itaquai River where a tarp from the boat used by the missing men was found. Authorities began searching the area and discovered a backpack, laptop and other personal belongings underwater on Sunday.

Authorities have said a mainline of the police investigation into the disappearances has pointed to an international network that pays poor fishermen to fish illegally in the Javari Valley Reserve, Brazil’s second largest indigenous area.

Pereira, who previously headed the local office of the Federal Bureau of Indigenous Peoples known as FUNAI, took part in several operations against illegal fishing. In such operations, as a rule, the fishing gear is seized or destroyed, while the fishermen are fined and detained briefly. Only the indigenous people are allowed to fish legally on their territory.

While some police, the mayor and others in the region have linked the couple’s disappearances to the “fish mafia,” federal police have not ruled out other lines of investigation, such as drug trafficking.

The case has increased violence in the Amazon region worldwide.

Earlier on Friday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Phillips and Pereira were “killed for supporting the conservation of the rainforest and the indigenous peoples there”.

“We call for accountability and justice – we must collectively strengthen our efforts to protect environmental defenders and journalists,” Price said.

Protests will be held in several Brazilian cities this weekend calling for justice for Phillips and Pereira.

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