3 charged over murders of British journalist and Indigenous expert in Brazil

Public prosecutors charged three individuals with the June murder British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in the remote western reaches of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, according to a statement.

All are local riverside dwellers, and the reason was that Pereira asked Phillips to photograph them as they passed by by boat, according to the statement. The area is a hotspot for illegal fishing and poaching.

Phillips and Pereira had met with indigenous people near the entrance to the Vale do Javari Indigenous Land, which borders Peru and Colombia, and were traveling up the Itaquaí River back to the town of Atalaia do Norte when they were attacked. Their disappearance generated intense international outcry and pressure for action, and with the help of local indigenous people, authorities located their bodies hidden in the forest.

Brazil Amazon
A federal police officer stands guard as a suspect is transported to the area where indigenous expert Bruno Pereira and British freelance journalist Dom Phillips disappeared, in Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas state, Brazil, Wednesday, June 15, 2022.

Edmar Barros/AP

Prosecutors filed their charges on Thursday, describing that two of the men – Amarildo da Costa Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima – confessed to the crimewhile witness statements indicate that Oseney da Costa de Oliveira also participated, according to the statement.

Pereira has had previous clashes with fishermen when seizing their catches and has received several threats. He carried a gun with him and had left the federal Indian affairs agency to teach local Indians how to patrol their land and collect geo-marked photographic evidence of crime.

On the day they were murdered, Pereira was transporting this evidence to the authorities in Atalaia do Norte and was shot three times. Phillips, who was conducting research for a book entitled “How to Save the Amazon,” was killed because “only for being with Bruno in order to ensure impunity for the earlier crime,” the prosecutors’ statement said.

There has been speculation in the Brazilian press that his murder may have been ordered by the leader of an illegal fishing net. Police earlier this month arrested a fourth man when he produced false documents, believing he may have some involvement, but no charges have yet been filed.

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