Missing British journalist Dom Phillips’ family have received an apology after being incorrectly told his body has been found.
Brazilian police have been looking for 57-year-old writer and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, 41.
They have disappeared from a remote part of the Amazon and are believed to have been last seen early June 5 in the municipality of Sao Rafael.
Mr Phillips’ family received a call from an aide at Brazil’s ambassador to the UK on Monday, claiming their bodies had been discovered tied to trees in the rainforest.
But the journalist’s brother-in-law, Paul Sherwood, said yesterday that Ambassador Fred Arruda had written to the family to say the statement was false.
The envoy said: “We deeply regret that the embassy passed information to the family yesterday that turned out to be incorrect.”
He said the embassy was “misled” by information it received from “investigators.” Mr Arruda insisted: “The search operation is continuing and no effort will be spared.”
He added: “Our thoughts remain with Dom, Bruno, you and the other members of both families.”
Yesterday, Brazilian police arrested a second suspect in the couple’s disappearance in the rainforest. 41-year-old Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, also known as “Dos Santos”, was temporarily arrested.
Police suspect he was involved in the case with his brother Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, who was arrested last week.
Amarildo, known as “Pelado”, was arrested last week in the riverside village of Sao Gabriel – not far from where Mr Pereira and Mr Phillips were last staying. He was arrested for allegedly carrying a firearm without a permit – a common practice in the area.
Police did not explain why he was being treated as a suspect, but it is believed he was among a group of men who threatened the missing men near an indigenous territory on June 4.
Officers returned to Sao Gabriel yesterday and confiscated some ammunition and an oar, a statement said.
Both suspects are being held at the police station in Atalaia do Norte, the nearest town, where the second man was arrested.
The search for the missing men is drawing to a close as the remaining area shrinks, according to a spokesman for indigenous group Univaja, which has been searching non-stop.
Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer for Univaja, said indigenous searchers tipped off authorities after spotting tracks of the men in the area and helped focus the search.
Brazil Federal Police said the latest development in the search for the two men is the discovery of their personal belongings.
These included a backpack and a pair of boots belonging to Mr Phillips, as well as a medical card, black trousers, a black sandal and a pair of boots belonging to Mr Pereira.
A search team firefighter told reporters about a backpack containing clothing and a laptop attached to a half-submerged log.
Separate reports emerged on Saturday that police had discovered human matter in the Itaquai River near the port of Atalaia do Norte. Authorities previously said blood found on a suspect’s boat had been sent for analysis.
News of the couple’s disappearance resonated around the world, with human rights organizations, environmentalists and advocates of free press urging Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to step up the search.
Protesters carrying banners with the two men’s faces went to Brazil’s Justice Ministry in the capital Brasilia yesterday to demand justice and answers.
Workers at the indigenous organization Funai went on a day-long strike to demand more security for their local experts.
They also called on the organization’s president, Marcelo Augusto Xavier da Silva, to withdraw statements criticizing Pereira in the days following his disappearance.
Mr. Pereira worked for FUNAI until 2019, when he was fired for what he believed to be a successful operation to end illegal mines in a reserved area
Bolsonaro, who was once questioned harshly at a press conference for weakening environmental legislation by Mr Phillips, said last week the two men were “on an adventure that is not recommended” and speculated they may have been executed.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/15/family-of-brit-missing-in-amazon-get-apology-for-being-told-body-found-16830002/ Brit's family missing from Amazon apologize after body was found