Suspects confess to murder of British journalist and Brazilian tour guide – report

Suspects confess to murder of British journalist and Brazilian tour guide – report

ATALAIA DO NORTE, Brazil, June 15 (Reuters) – Two suspects have confessed to killing and dismembering British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, TV Globo reported on Wednesday, citing police sources, after the men heard about a Brazil’s Amazon rainforest had been missing for a week.

Federal police said in an earlier statement that after arresting the suspects, they were still looking for Phillips and Pereira in what they called a murder investigation. Band News also reported that at least one of the suspects has confessed.

Reuters witnesses saw police take away a hooded man they called a suspect on the river where the couple disappeared. Police did not comment on the reported confession.

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President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday afternoon that he expected the case to be resolved “in the coming hours”.

Police identified the suspects as fisherman Amarildo da Costa, known as “Pelado,” who was arrested last week on gun charges, and his brother Oseney da Costa, 41, or “Dos Santos,” who was taken into custody Tuesday night. Continue reading

The suspects’ families have denied having any role in the men’s disappearance. Public defenders representing the brothers could not be immediately reached for comment.

The reports point to a somber conclusion to a case that has sparked alarm around the world, hovered over Bolsonaro at a regional summit and sparked concern in Britain’s Parliament on Wednesday.

Phillips, a freelance reporter who has written for the Guardian and Washington Post, was researching a book about the trip with Pereira, a former leader of isolated and recently contacted tribes at the Federal Bureau of Indigenous Affairs Funai.

They were in a remote jungle area near the border of Colombia and Peru called the Javari Valley, which is home to the world’s largest number of uncontacted tribal peoples. The region has been invaded by illegal fishermen, hunters, loggers and miners, and police say it is a key route for drug trafficking.

The brothers were seen meeting by the Itacoai River just moments after Phillips and Pereira passed by on June 5 and returned to the riverside town of Atalaia do Norte, a federal police witness said in a Reuters report.

According to the police report, witnesses heard Pereira say he had received threats from Amarildo da Costa. A former official at the Funai government agency for indigenous affairs, Pereira was instrumental in stopping illegal gold mining and fishing by poachers in rivers inhabited by indigenous Javari tribes.

News of the man’s disappearance resonated around the world, with human rights organizations, environmentalists and press freedom advocates urging Bolsonaro to step up the search.

Bolsonaro, who was once questioned harshly at a news conference over Phillips’ weakening of environmental legislation, said last week that the two men were “on an adventure that is not recommended.” Continue reading

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro suggested Phillips made enemies by writing about environmental issues.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament on Wednesday he was deeply concerned by Phillips’ disappearance and said his government was working with Brazilian authorities to investigate the case. Continue reading

“What we said to the Brazilians is that we are ready to give all the support they need,” he said.

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Reporting by Jake Spring and Bruno Kelly Additional reporting by Peter Frontini and Steven Grattan in Sao Paulo and Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro Writing by Anthony Boadle Editing by Brad Haynes and Diane Craft

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