Brazilian authorities announced Wednesday that a suspect in the disappearance of a British journalist has confessed to the murder of the two men in remote Amazonia.
Brazilian Federal Police identified the suspect in this case as Amarildo de Costa de Oliveira. According to police, he confessed to it on Tuesday night. He also indicated the location where the bodies of former correspondent Dom Phillips (researcher) and Bruno Araujo Pereira were buried.
The suspect drove police to the scene where the couple was allegedly murdered the next day. It took him about 100 minutes by speedboat, and he also trekked for three kilometers (about 2 miles) into the jungle.
Eduardo Alexandre Fontes (Federal Police representative) said that police have been excavating the site and have found human remains. These will be sent to Brasilia on Thursday for forensic analysis. He said that police could not confirm Pereira’s death until the analysis was complete.
Authorities declined to provide any additional information on Amarildo and the circumstances surrounding his alleged murder of the couple. Fontes indicated Wednesday that authorities are continuing to investigate and that new arrests could occur “any moment”.
Fontes answered the question of why authorities hadn’t previously mentioned the help of indigenous peoples in the search mission.
Phillips and Pereira disappeared on June 5th, while they were traveling in the Javari Valley in the far west Amazonas state. After being part of an indigenous patrol along the Itaquai River to stop illegal fishermen and hunters from the Javari Valley Indigenous Land, they were last seen in Sao Rafael, which is a two-hour boat trip from Atalaia do Norte.
According to Federal Police’s news release, a second suspect was arrested Tuesday in connection to the disappearance of the men.
According to police, the second suspect, a 41-year-old man, is being interrogated. He will be referred for a custody hearing at the municipal court. They also claimed they had seized firearm cartridges as well as a paddle. These will be analyzed.
Phillips and Pereira vanished while they were conducting research on a book project about conservation efforts in the area. Authorities have described the region as “complicated and dangerous” and noted that it is home to illegal miners, loggers, drug dealers, and other criminals.
According to reports, they had received death threats days before their disappearance.
Their case has attracted global attention to the problems faced by Brazilian journalists and environmental activists in Brazil.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 300 people were killed in Brazil in conflict over land and resources in the Amazon between 2009 and 2019. These figures are based on data from the Pastoral Land Commission (a non-profit associated with the Catholic Church).
Global Witness placed Brazil fourth in the most dangerous country for environmental activism in 2020 based on documented killings. It said that nearly three-quarters of these attacks on Brazil were in the Amazon region.
Phillips has written extensively about Brazil’s marginalized groups, as well as the destruction criminal actors are inflicting on the Amazon.
Brazilian President Jairbolsonaro has criticized the pair’s disappearance. He said in an interview on YouTube that Philips’ and Pereira’s actions were “reckless” before he confessed to Wednesday’s confession that Pereira and Philips would have been missing in the Javari River if they had been “killed.”
Phillips’s spouse, Alessandra Sampaio issued a statement following Wednesday’s news conference in which she urged authorities to share more details about the case and to take any necessary steps to prevent further killings.
“This tragic result ends the agony of not knowing where Dom and Bruno are. She wrote that they can now bring them home and kiss goodbye with love.