Remains of British journalist Dom Phillips identified, Brazilian police say


SÃO PAULO – A forensic examination of human remains found in the Amazon rainforest on Friday confirmed they belonged to British journalist Dom Phillips, Brazil’s federal police said.

The cause of death is being determined, the police said in a statement.

The remains of a second person, believed to be Bruno Pereira, an expert on indigenous peoples, were still being analyzed, a CNN Brasil report said earlier on Friday.

Mr. Pereira and Mr. Phillips disappeared on June 5 in the remote Javari Valley bordering Peru and Colombia. Earlier this week, police recovered human remains in a jungle grave where they were led by Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, a fisherman who confessed to killing the two men.

“The remains of Dom Phillips were part of the material collected at the location indicated by Amarildo da Costa Oliveira,” police said.

Mr. Phillips, a freelance reporter who had written for The Guardian and The Washington Post, was researching for a book about the journey with Mr. Pereira, a former chief of isolated and recently contacted tribes at the Funai Federal Bureau of Indigenous Affairs.

Earlier in the day, police said their investigation suggested more individuals were involved than the suspect had confessed to, but the killers had so far been believed to have acted without the involvement of a criminal organization.

“The investigations show that the killers acted alone, with no bosses or criminal organization behind the crime,” the police said.

However, the local indigenous group Univaja, which played a leading role in the search, said it had informed federal police several times since late 2021 that an organized crime group was operating in the Javari valley.

Credit…Barbara Maisonnave Arisi, via Associated Press

“The brutality of the crime makes it clear that Pereira and Phillips crossed paths with a powerful criminal organization that tried at all costs to cover its tracks during the investigation,” Univaja said.

INA, a trade union representing Funai’s employees, shared the view.

“We all know that violence in the Javari Valley is linked to a wide chain of organized crime,” a separate statement said.

Police said they were still looking for the boat Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were traveling in when they were last seen alive.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Friday called for “responsibility and justice,” saying Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were murdered for supporting rainforest conservation and indigenous peoples.

“Our condolences to the families of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira… We must collectively strengthen our efforts to protect environmentalists and journalists,” Mr Price said on Twitter.

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