A crime in the middle of the remote Amazon region of Brazil? There are now many indications that a missing British journalist and an indigenous expert who also went missing were killed there. In an area that is considered particularly dangerous. Two suspects have been arrested so far, one of them now confessed that he was involved in the murder of the two, as the federal police in Manaus announced on Wednesday evening (local time).
He led the police to “human remains,” it said. These should be investigated. According to an investigator, the two missing persons are said to have been shot dead.
“While we are still awaiting final confirmations, this tragic outcome ends our fears and anguish of not knowing where Dom and Bruno are,” wrote Alessandra Sampaio, Dom Philipps’ wife, in a statement. “Now we can take her home and say goodbye with love.” In addition, the search for justice begins.
The Javari Valley Indigenous Association lamented the “priceless loss” of “two partners”. It was above all the indigenous people of the region who had driven the search for the missing people from the start. According to the police, the site is a good three kilometers from where personal belongings of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira were found.
The motive for the alleged crime was initially unclear. Regional media speculated Phillips and Pereira may have been the victims of an ambush on behalf of drug dealers. Another line of investigation looks at the connection between illegal fishing and hunting.
Phillips and Pereira did not arrive by boat in the town of Atalaia do Norte on June 5 as planned, according to a regional Aboriginal organization. Pereira had previously reported to the police that he had been threatened several times. He had recorded illegal activities in the Vale do Javari for the authorities.
According to the media, a good week after the disappearance of the men, personal items belonging to them were found. A second suspect was arrested on Wednesday. He is a fisherman and brother of the only suspect arrested so far.
With an area slightly larger than Austria, the Javari Valley is one of the largest indigenous areas in Brazil. Many indigenous people live in isolation there. The border area with Peru and Colombia is also particularly conflict-ridden due to illegal prospecting for gold, deforestation, hunting and illegal fishing as well as drug smuggling.
“All of this has reached gigantic proportions with the government’s systematic weakening of the indigenous and environmental authorities as well as the federal police,” said a Brazilian television report on why the Javari Valley had become one of the most dangerous areas in the Amazon .
“Brazil is in a situation bordering on barbarism and this scenario cannot go any further,” Greenpeace Brazil tweeted.