Brazil: Human remains found in Amazon search for Dom Phillips


Dom Phillips (r) and Bruno Pereira went missing while covering illegal commercial activities in the Amazon (Image: Getty/Reuters)

Hopes are fading for a British journalist who disappeared while investigating activities of the Amazon “rainforest mafia”.

Dom Phillips and an Indigenous official he worked with, Bruno Pereira, have not been seen since Sunday morning.

They disappeared from a remote part of the rainforest in a remote area on the borders of Peru and Colombia.

Police have confirmed they are investigating possible human remains found in the Itaquai River near the port of Atalaia do Norte.

The couple were known to return to the area by boat, but never arrived.

Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were last seen in the community of Sao Rafael in the Javari Valley, Brazil’s second largest indigenous territory.

Brazilian authorities have arrested a suspect, fisherman Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, also known as Pelado.

Brazilian soldiers sit on a boat during the search for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who went missing while they were in a remote and lawless part of the Amazon rainforest near the border with Peru in Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas state , reported , Brazil, June 10, 2022. REUTERS/Bruno Kelly

Brazil’s military have been drafted in to help search a part of the Amazon where violence is rising (Image: Reuters)

He was arrested on gun charges before being charged with murder, and investigators say blood samples found on his boat were sent to a lab for forensic examination.

His family insists he is innocent, denies he fished illegally and claims he was tortured to extract a confession in an internationally publicized case.

Brazilian authorities have been accused of being slow to respond to requests for a full search.

Mr Phillips’ wife, in a tearful video appeal, appealed directly to the government for more resources to be allocated to the effort.

Mr. Phillips, 57, has been reporting from Brazil for more than a decade and was most recently working on a book on Amazon conservation.

Children play next to a Brazilian Army helicopter taking part in the search for missing Indigenist Bruno Pereira and journalist Dom Phillips in the municipality of Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas state, Brazil, June 10, 2022. Amazon is searching for signs of a missing British journalist and an expert on indigenous Brazilians are examining a patch of ground where something appears to be buried, officials said on Friday. Fears over the fate of Dom Phillips, 57, a veteran contributor at The Guardian newspaper, and Bruno Pereira, 41, a respected tribal peoples specialist, have been rising since they disappeared on Sunday after being caught during a research trip to Javari, Brazil -Tal had received threats. a remote jungle region that has seen a wave of illegal fishing, logging, mining and drug trafficking. (Photo by JOAO LAET/AFP) (Photo by JOAO LAET/AFP via Getty Images)

Violence by groups dubbed the “rainforest mafia” by human rights groups has increased in recent years (Image: AFP)

The respected journalist, who has written for both UK and US dailies, was previously threatened for his coverage of illegal logging, mining and drug trafficking in the Amazon.

Mr Pereira has worked as a civil servant in the region and most recently has spearheaded efforts to defend the area against illegal fishermen and poachers.

Human Rights Watch has labeled the criminal groups conducting illegal commercial activities deep in the Amazon as the “rainforest mafia.”

Activists say violence against the indigenous communities that stand in the way of illegal operations has increased under the presidency of Jair Bolsanaro, who has reduced protections and opened the door to the logging industry.

Sian Phillips, the journalist’s sister, urged the government to continue to pressure the Brazilian authorities to uncover the truth.

She told the BBC: “We want to find out what is happening to them and we want anyone responsible for an offense to be brought to justice.

“We want a persistent, thorough and open investigation.”

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Justin Scacco

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