British journalist’s remains found on Amazon, police name new suspect

SAO PAULO, June 17 (Reuters) – A forensic examination of human remains found in the Amazon rainforest confirmed on Friday that they belonged to British journalist Dom Phillips, Brazil’s federal police said, adding a search was ongoing for a man suspected of involvement in his assassination.

Work is continuing to determine the cause of death, police said in a statement.

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

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Pereira and Phillips went missing on June 5 in the remote Javari Valley on the border of Peru and Colombia. Earlier this week, police recovered human remains from a grave in the jungle where they were led by a fisherman, Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, who confessed to killing the two men. Read more

Phillips, a freelance journalist who had written for the Guardian and the Washington Post, was researching a book about the trip with Pereira, a former remote tribesman and recent contact at the federal indigenous affairs agency Funai.

Police said their investigation suggested there were more individuals involved beyond Oliveira and they were now looking for a man named Jeferson da Silva Lima.

He is the third suspect named by police after Oliveira and his brother, Oseney da Costa, who was arrested this week.

“There is an arrest warrant issued by the State Court of Atalaia do Norte against Jeferson da Silva Lima, alias ‘Pelado da Dinha’, which has not been located at this time,” police said. .

Federal police officers carry a coffin containing human remains after a suspect confessed to killing British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira and led police to the location of the remains at the headquarters of federal police, in Brasilia, Brazil, June 16, 2022. REUTERS / Ueslei Marcelino

“Investigations indicate that the killers acted alone, with no bosses or criminal organization behind the crime.”

However, local indigenous group Univaja, which played a leading role in the research, said: “The cruelty of the crime makes it clear that Pereira and Phillips crossed paths with a powerful criminal organization that tried at all costs cover their tracks during the investigation. “

He said he informed the Federal Police on several occasions since late 2021 that an organized crime group was operating in the Javari Valley.

INA, a union representing workers at Funai, shares this view.

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

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

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

“Our condolences to the families of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira…We must collectively step up efforts to protect conservationists and journalists,” Price said on Twitter.

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Reporting by Gabriel Araujo in Sao Paulo, Anthony Boadle in Brasilia and Carolina Pulice in Mexico City; Editing by David Alire Garcia, Daniel Wallis and Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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