British Journalist Missing In Brazil Confirmed Dead: Police

British journalist missing in Brazil confirmed dead: police

Human remains unearthed at the site arrived in Brasilia on Thursday evening for identification.

Atalaia do Norte (Brazil):

Brazilian police on Friday officially identified the remains of British journalist Dom Phillips, who was found buried in the Amazon after going missing during a book research trip.

The grim result comes after the disappearance on June 5 of Phillips and his guide, Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, sparked an international outcry, with the United States calling for “responsibility” on Friday.

Phillips was identified through “forensic dentistry combined with forensic anthropology,” the federal police said in a statement.

It said it was still working on “complete identification” of the unearthed remains, including that of Pereira, who had received multiple death threats.

Veteran correspondent Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, went missing in a remote part of the rainforest full of illegal mining, fishing and logging, as well as drug trafficking.

Ten days later, on Wednesday, a suspect named Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira – known as “Pelado” – took police to a place where he said he had buried bodies near the town of Atalaia do Norte, where the couple had gone. by boat.

Human remains excavated at the site arrived in Brasilia on Thursday evening for identification by forensic experts.

Earlier Friday, police said investigations indicated that the perpetrators “acted alone, with no intellectual author or criminal organization behind the crime.”

“Investigations continue and there is evidence that more people are involved” in the murders, it added.

Activists have blamed President Jair Bolsonaro for the killings for allowing commercial exploitation of the Amazon at the expense of the environment and public order.

For his part, Bolsonaro tried to blame the men themselves for undertaking a “reckless” journey in an area where Phillips was “unloved”.

‘A powerful criminal organization’

Phillips, a longtime contributor to The Guardian and other leading international newspapers, was working on a book on sustainable development in the Amazon with Pereira as his guide.

Pereira, an expert at Brazil’s Bureau of Indigenous Affairs FUNAI, had received multiple threats from loggers and miners with a view to isolated indigenous lands.

The Univaja Association of Indigenous Peoples, which had participated in the search for the men, refuted the police’s conclusion that the killers had acted alone.

“These are not just two murderers, but an organized group that planned the crime in great detail,” Univaja said in a statement.

It alleged that authorities had ignored numerous complaints about the activities of criminal gangs in the area.

Univaja said it filed a report in April that “Pelado” was involved in illegal fishing.

He had previously been accused, it alleged, of being “the perpetrator of gun attacks in 2018 and 2019 on a base of FUNAI”, the organization for which Pereira had worked.

Univaja said that “a powerful criminal organization has tried at all costs to cover its tracks during the investigation” into the double murder.

Experts say illegal fishing for endangered species in the Javari Valley is overseen by drug traffickers who use the sale of fish to launder drug money.

Police said Friday night they have issued a warrant for the arrest of a man identified as Jeferson da Silva Lima. It is unknown how he was linked to the case.

Heavily armed soldiers who had taken part in the search for the two men left Atalaia do Norte on Friday.

People there who assisted in the search and reported illegal activity now fear for their lives, said Paulo Marubo, a Univaja coordinator.

“We will continue to live here, and the state is not going to offer people any kind of protection,” said Marubo, who says he has received threats.

‘Brutal act of violence’

The United States on Friday pushed for “responsibility and justice” for the killings.

State Department spokesman Ned Price expressed his condolences to the families of the men, saying they were “killed for supporting the conservation of the rainforest and the indigenous peoples there”.

In neighboring Peru, an estimated 100 indigenous people in traditional costume marched into Lima on Friday to demand protection for natural resources on indigenous lands and to mourn the deaths of Phillips and Pereira.

“The blood spilled will never be forgotten,” the group chanted as they marched toward the Justice Department. People at the head of the procession carried a banner that read ‘protect land, water and life’.

On Thursday, the UN denounced a “cruel act of violence” in Brazil.

UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said attacks and threats against activists and indigenous people in Brazil were “ongoing” and urged the government to step up protections.

The motive for the crime is further investigated.

Police were unable to locate the boat Phillips and Pereira were in when they were last seen.

Blood found in Oliveira’s boat belonged to a man, investigators said, but not Phillips.

Analysis also found that viscera found in the river during the search and associated with the men by Bolsonaro, according to police, contained “no human DNA.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)

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