Brazil: New suspect in journalist killing, indigenous group says 'organized crime'

i24NEWS - Reuters

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Foreign correspondent Dom Phillips (C) talks to two indigenous men in Aldeia Maloca Papiú, Roraima State, Brazil, on November 16, 2019.
JOAO LAET / AFPForeign correspondent Dom Phillips (C) talks to two indigenous men in Aldeia Maloca Papiú, Roraima State, Brazil, on November 16, 2019.

'Cruelty... makes clear that Pereira and Phillips crossed paths with a powerful criminal organization'

The human remains found in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest were confirmed on Friday of belonging to British journalist Dom Phillips, local federal police said, adding that a search was underway for another suspect involved in the killing.

Work is still proceeding to determine the cause of death, according to Brazilian authorities.

The remains of a second person – thought to be that of indigenous expert Bruno Pereira – were still under analysis, CNN Brasil reported.

Pereira and Phillips vanished on June 5 in the remote Javari Valley bordering Peru and Colombia. Earlier this week, police recovered human remains from a grave in the jungle where they were led by fisherman, Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, who confessed to killing the two men.

Phillips, a freelance reporter who wrote for the Guardian and the Washington Post, was doing research for a book on the trip with Pereira, a former head of isolated and recently contacted tribes at federal indigenous affairs agency Funai.

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Police indicated that there was the potential for more individuals who were involved, including a man named Jeferson da Silva Lima and his brother Oseney da Costa, who was taken into custody.

"The investigations indicate that the killers acted alone, with no bosses or criminal organization behind the crime,” police said.

However, the local indigenous group Univaja, which played a leading role in the search, had a contrasting take on the situation: "The cruelty of the crime makes clear that Pereira and Phillips crossed paths with a powerful criminal organization that tried at all costs to cover its tracks during the investigation."

It noted that it informed the federal police numerous times since late 2021 that there was an organized crime group operating in the Javari Valley.

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