In Brazil, outrage after the murder of two missing people in the Amazon

The killings of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian environmentalist Bruno Pereira have outraged Brazil and the United Nations.

After ten days of intense searching, federal police said on Wednesday that one of the two suspects, fisherman Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, had admitted burying the bodies of the two men, who had been missing since June 5 during an expedition in the Amazon Valley of the Javari (northwest).

Also read: Amazon: A suspect says he buried the bodies of the two missing

Police found “human remains” at the scene with a “99% chance” of belonging to the two men. Locked in two wooden coffins, they arrived in Brasilia on Thursday night for final identification, AFP found.

No human DNA in the viscera found

Police said late Thursday that traces of blood were found on Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira’s boat when he was arrested last week. They do not match Dom Phillips’ DNA, and “further examinations” are needed to determine whether they are Bruno Pereira’s.

In addition, “no human DNA was detected” in the viscera found floating on the river. The discovery was announced by President Jair Bolsonaro in a radio interview that concluded: “There is every reason to believe that they have been harmed.”

The investigation is continuing to determine the motive for the crime, the circumstances of the apparently “gun” death, the exact role played by the two arrested suspects, Amarildo da Costa and his brother Oseney, and their possible accomplices.

According to the Brazilian press, three other suspects have been identified, including the alleged sponsor of the killings. Federal police have not confirmed the information but have not ruled out further arrests.


Dom Phillips, 57, a regular contributor to the Guardian and author of dozens of reports on the Amazon, had traveled to the area as part of research for a book on environmental protection. He was accompanied by Bruno Pereira, 41, a recognized expert and advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples.

The two men were missing as they were returning by boat to the town of Atalaia do Norte in the Javari Valley, an isolated area near the border with Peru and Colombia, the scene of multiple drug trafficking, fishing and gold mining. illegal.

Denouncing a “brutal” and “horrific” act, the United Nations called on Brazil to “step up its efforts to protect human rights defenders and indigenous peoples.”

The environmental NGO WWF-Brazil expressed “outrage” at the state’s lack of protection for “forest peoples and their defenders.”

Greenpeace has estimated that “in the last three years”, since the coming to power of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in 2019, Brazil has become the “all is allowed” country.

Seven Brazilian Aboriginal leaders have denounced the climate of violence and “impunity” in the Amazon in Brussels, saying the government “shows no desire to fight environmental crime.”


The disappearance of the two men has rekindled criticism of the head of state, who was accused of encouraging invasions of Indian lands with his speeches in favor of exploiting the resources of the world’s largest rainforest.

The latter, who claimed that the journalist was “frowned upon” in the Amazon for “his many reports against gold diggers, on the environment”, reacted on Thursday in a succinct tweet: “our condolences to the families and may God comfort the heart of all ”.

The Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (Univaja), members of which were actively involved in the investigation, called the killing a “political crime” because it was directed against “human rights defenders.”

In London, Jonathan Watts, a colleague of Dom Phillips in the Guardian, told AFP he hoped the “monstrous” killings would encourage, not deter, the media from continuing their work on environmental crime.

The family of the British journalist in the United Kingdom said on Thursday that she had a “broken heart”, thanking the participants in the research “especially the natives”. “Now that Bruno’s spirits are roaming the jungle and scattered among us, our strength is so much greater,” Beatriz Matos, Bruno Pereira’s widow, wrote on Twitter.

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