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After the confession of a suspect on Wednesday, the bodies of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Bruno Pereira arrived Thursday evening in Brasilia for their final identification. Their disappearance, and news of their murder ten days after their disappearance in the Amazon, sparked anger and outrage around the world.
The murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Bruno Pereira, defenders of indigenous peoples and the environment, have sparked outrage in Brazil and as far as the UN, while the investigation continues Friday June 17 to try to clarify the circumstances of their death.
After ten days of intense research, the federal police announced on Wednesday that one of the two suspects, the fisherman Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, had admitted to having buried the bodies of the two men, who had been missing since June 5 during an expedition in the Javari Amazon Valley (north-west).
At the scene, the police discovered “human remains” with a “99% probability” of belonging to the two men. Locked in two wooden coffins, they arrived Thursday evening in Brasilia for the final identification, noted AFP.
The presumed sponsor identified?
Police issued a statement late Thursday about the bloodstains found on Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira’s boat when he was arrested last week. They do not correspond to the DNA of Dom Phillips and “additional examinations” are necessary to determine if it is that of Bruno Pereira.
Furthermore, “no human DNA was detected” in the viscera found floating in the river. This discovery was announced by President Jair Bolsonaro during a radio interview which concluded: “everything suggests that they have been harmed”.
The investigation is continuing to determine the motive for the crime, the circumstances of the death apparently “by firearm”, 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 murders. The Federal Police did not confirm the information but did not rule out other arrests.
Denouncing a “brutal” and “appalling act”, the UN called on Brazil to “increase its efforts to protect defenders of human rights and indigenous peoples”.
Environmental NGO WWF-Brazil expressed “outrage” at the lack of protection provided by the state “to the peoples of the forest and their defenders”. The organization Greenpeace has estimated that “over the past three years”, since the coming to power of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in 2019, Brazil has become the country of “anything goes”.
Seven Brazilian indigenous leaders denounced in Brussels the climate of violence and “impunity” in the Amazon, saying that the government “shows no desire to fight against environmental crimes”.
The disappearance of the two men has revived criticism against the head of state, accused of encouraging invasions of Indian lands with his speeches in favor of the exploitation of the resources of the largest tropical forest in the world.
The latter, who said that the journalist was “frowned upon” in the Amazon for “his many reports against gold miners, on the environment”, reacted Thursday in a pithy tweet: “our condolences to the families and may God comfort the heart of all”.
The Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (Univaja), whose members actively participated in the research, described the murder as a “political crime” because it was directed against “human rights defenders”.
In London, Jonathan Watts, a colleague of Dom Phillips at the Guardian, told AFP he hoped the “monstrous” murders would encourage, not deter, the media to continue their work on environmental crimes.
The British journalist’s family in the UK said Thursday that they were “heartbroken”, thanking the search participants “especially the indigenous people”. “Now that the spirits of Bruno roam the jungle and are scattered among us, our strength is so much greater,” Beatriz Matos, widow of Bruno Pereira, wrote on Twitter.