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

São Paulo (Reuters) – A forensic examination of human remains found in the Amazon rainforest confirmed on Friday that they belonged to British journalist Dom Phillips, and a search was underway for a man suspected of involvement in the crime, Brazilian federal police said. involved in killing him.

The police said in a statement that work is underway to determine the cause of death.

A report from CNN Brasil earlier on Friday said the remains of another person, believed to be that of indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, were still being analyzed.

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Pereira and Phillips disappeared on June 5 in the remote Javari Valley bordering Peru and Colombia. Earlier this week, police found human remains from a tomb in the jungle where it was led by a fisherman, Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, who confessed to killing the two men. Read more

Phillips, a freelance reporter who wrote for the Guardian and the Washington Post, was researching a book about the trip with Pereira, a former chief of reclusive tribes and recently contacted at the Funai Federal Agency for Indigenous Affairs.

Police said their investigations indicate that there are more individuals involved outside of Oliveira and that they are now looking for a man named Jefferson da Silva Lima.

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

“There is an arrest warrant issued by the Atalaya do Norte State Court against Jefferson da Silva Lima, also known as Pelado da Dinha, whose whereabouts have not been identified at this time,” police said.

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

“Investigations indicate that the killers acted alone, without leaders or a criminal organization behind the crime,” he added.

However, the local indigenous group Univaja, which played a leading role in the research, said: “The brutality of the crime shows that Pereira and Phillips intersected with a powerful criminal organization that tried at all costs to conceal its traces during the investigation.”

She said she had informed the Federal Police several times since late 2021 of the existence of an organized criminal group operating in the Javari Valley.

This view was shared by a union representing workers in Funai INA.

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

Police said they were still searching for the boat that Phillips and Pereira were traveling on when they were last seen alive.

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

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

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(Additional reporting by Gabriel Araujo in São Paulo and Anthony Boudl in Brasilia and Carolina Polis in Mexico City; Editing by David Aller Garcia, Danielle Wallis and Rosalba O’Brien

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