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Remains found of British journalist Dom Phillips

Human remains found in the remote region of the Brazilian Amazon have been identified as belonging to British journalist Dom Phillips after he and a Brazilian indigenous expert went missing two weeks ago, federal authorities said on Friday.

Other remains recovered near the western town of Atalaia do Norte are believed to belong to indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41, but have not yet been officially identified.

Phillips, 57, and Pereira were last seen on June 5 on their boat on the Itaquai River near the entrance to the Javari Valley indigenous territory along the Peru-Colombia borders. The case quickly attracted international attention.

“Confirmation (of Phillips’ remains) was made based on dental examinations and forensic anthropology,” federal police said in a statement. “Work is underway for a full identification of the remains so that we can determine the cause of death, as well as the dynamics of the crime and the concealment of the bodies.”

Two suspects, fishermen Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira and his brother, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, were arrested by Brazilian Federal Police on Wednesday in connection with their disappearance.

Police say Amarildo, whose nickname is Pelado, confessed to shooting and killing the two men on Tuesday night. He then led authorities to the area where remains were found.

The human remains of journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira have been found by federal police.
The human remains of journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira have been recovered by authorities.
PA

The Mirror, citing a report by local Brazilian broadcaster Band Jornalismo, reported that the men “surrendered and [were] taken to a ditch, where they were killed and their bodies quartered and set on fire.

The remains arrived in the capital, Brasilia, on Thursday for forensics to work on, officials said. Police said more arrests could be made, but it does not appear that organized crime groups are involved.

The bodies of the men were found in an area where there have been violent conflicts between fishermen, poachers and government agents.

UNIVAJA, the local indigenous association Pereira worked for, said the government failed to take into account that the men may have been targeted by a criminal organization funding illegal fishing and poaching in the valley’s indigenous territory. from Javari.

“This is why Bruno Pereira has become one of the main targets of this criminal group, along with other members of UNIVAJA who have received death threats,” the statement said.

President Jair Bolsonaro, a vocal critic of journalists and indigenous experts, has come under fire for not acting quickly enough in the couple’s disappearance. Without proof, he claimed in an interview that locals didn’t like Philips and that he should have been more careful.

Phillips and Pereira were last seen on their boat on the Itaquai River on June 5.
Phillips and Pereira were last seen on their boat on the Itaquai River on June 5.
AFP via Getty Images

Efforts to find the reporter and expert were spearheaded by the indigenous peoples of the area. Natives who were with Pereira and Phillips said Pelado threw a gun at them the day before he disappeared.

Search teams located a tarp from the men’s boat on the Itaquai River. They quickly recovered a backpack, laptop and other personal belongings that had been submerged underwater on Sunday.

Authorities said one of their main lines of inquiry had pointed to an international ‘fish mafia’ that pays poor fishermen to fish illegally in the Javari Valley reserve, which is the world’s second-largest territory. native to Brazil.

The police also did not exclude other leads from their investigation, such as drug trafficking.

On Friday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Phillips and Pereira were “murdered for supporting the conservation of the rainforest and the indigenous people there”.

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