Signs of something “buried” in Brazil where a journalist disappeared, according to an expert

The Brazilian authorities found this Friday material “apparently human” in their search for the British journalist Dom Phillips and the indigenist Bruno Araujo Pereira, missing since Sunday in the Amazon, while investigating signs of excavations and earth moved in an area near the place where they were last seen.

“The search teams located in the river, near the port of Atalaia do Norte, organic material apparently human”which will be subjected to an expert report, the Federal Police (PF), spokesperson for the searches carried out together with the Armed Forces and local teams, reported in a statement.

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Phillips, 57 and a contributor to the British newspaper The Guardian, and Pereira, 41 and expert of the government agency for indigenous affairs Brazil (Funai), were traveling together by boat through the Valle del Javarí region, a remote area in the extreme west of the state of Amazonas, conducting interviews for a book on environmental conservation.

They were last seen on Sunday morning, in the Sao Gabriel community, not far from their destination, Atalaia do Norte.

The PF did not specify if the organic material was found in the same place where firefighters investigated signs of excavations, on the banks of the Itaquaí River, for where the reporter and the indigenist were traveling when they disappeared.

“The story we have is of disturbed earth, as if it had been excavated on the spot, buried something, mud thrown at the bottom, ”the second lieutenant of the Fire Department, Geonivan Maciel, had said earlier.

“We cannot say that there is any concrete trace, but we are going to verify the situation to see if there is really anything that can be identified. something of the two disappeared”, he added.

DNA tests

The police also reported that they will compare the traces of blood found on Thursday in the boat of the only one detained so far in the case with the genetic material of the disappeared.

Witnesses reported seeing fisherman Amarildo Oliveira, 41, pass by in a speeding boat in the same direction as Phillips and Pereira after they were last seen. Police say the man was arrested carrying illegal caliber ammunition and drugs.

The Federal Police admitted on Wednesday that it does not rule out “any line of investigation”, including that of the homicide, in a region considered “dangerous”.

According to local indigenous activists, Pereira was frequently threatened for its fight against encroachments on indigenous lands.

Located on the border with Peru and Colombia, the area is home to 8.5 million hectares of protected indigenous land, and suffers from the presence of illegal drug traffickers, fishermen, loggers and miners.

– Bolsonaro under pressure –

The far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro has been the target of criticism from relatives of the disappeared and indigenous groups for the delay in deploying a tracking device.

“From the first moment our Armed Forces and the Federal Police have stood out in the tireless search for these people,” Bolsonaro defended himself this Friday in his speech during the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

The mention comes just after the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called Brasilia’s response to disappearances “extremely slow.”

The instance expressed concern about the disappearance of both, as well as about the attacks against activists and journalists in Brazil.

In previous statements, Bolsonaro had described the expedition of Phillips and Pereira as an “adventure”. “In that region, you are generally escorted,” he said Thursday.

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