British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, whose disappearance in the Amazon about two weeks ago sparked international protests, were shot dead, Brazilian police said Saturday.
The day after investigators identified remains found buried in a remote part of the Amazon as those of Mr. Phillips, officials said that another set of remains belonged to his guide, Mr. Pereira.
Authorities said both men were shot dead – Mr. Phillips, 57, shot in the chest, Mr. Pereira, 41, three shots, one to the head – with ammunition typically used. for hunting.
Mr. Pereira, an outspoken defender of indigenous rights, had received multiple death threats.
The two men went missing on June 5 in an isolated part of the rainforest, filled with illegal mining, fishing and logging, as well as drug trafficking.
Ten days later, a suspect took police to a location near the town of Atalaia do Norte in the western state of Amazonia, where he claimed to have buried the bodies. The suspect’s brother was also arrested soon after.
Police said Saturday that another suspect in the case, who they identified as Jefferson da Silva Lima, also known as “Pelado da Dinha”, had turned himself in at the Atalaia do Norte police station.
Commissioner Alex Perez Timoteo told the G1 news site that the evidence and testimony gathered so far indicates that the suspect “was at the scene of the crime and actively participated in the double homicide that occurred.”
Timothy also told reporters that it is “quite likely” that there could be further arrests in the case in the coming days.
“We will try to understand if there was a previous agreement (between the suspects), if they had planned this situation,” said the commissioner, adding that the third suspect was not related to the two brothers.
Police said Friday they believed the perpetrators had “acted alone, with no intellectual perpetrator or criminal organization behind the crime.”
Activists blamed the killings of President Jair Bolsonaro for allowing commercial exploitation of the Amazon at the expense of the environment and law and order.
For his part, Bolsonaro tried to blame the men themselves for embarking on a “reckless” trip to an area where Mr. Phillips was “unwelcome”.
Guarani indigenous and human rights activists demonstrated in support of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Perreira, calling on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to their deaths and to do more to protect the indigenous lands by miners, loggers and illegal fishermen. sources: AP / André Penner
“Not just two killers”
Mr. Phillips, a longtime contributor to several major international newspapers, including the British newspaper The Guardian, was working on a book on sustainable development in the Amazon with Pereira as a guide.
Mr. Pereira, an expert at the Brazilian Indigenous Affairs Agency FUNAI, had received multiple threats from loggers and miners with their eyes on isolated indigenous lands.
The Univaja Association of Indigenous Peoples, which had taken part in the search for the men, rejected the police conclusion that the killers had acted alone.
“These are not just two killers, but an organized group that has planned the crime in detail,” Univaja said in a statement.
The group said the authorities had ignored numerous complaints about the activities of criminal gangs in the area.
Brazilian representative of the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) Renata Neder said it was “reckless” and “worrying” that the police claimed so early in the investigation that the killers were acting alone.
“In Brazil, there is a historical model that in cases of killings of journalists and human rights defenders, when there is an investigation, only the executors are brought to justice, but very rarely the mind,” he said. ‘AFP.