Human remains found in Amazon belong to British journalist, exam confirms

Sao Paulo: A forensic exam carried out on human remains found in the Amazon rainforest confirmed that they belonged to British journalist Dom Phillips, Brazil’s federal police said on Saturday (AEST).

Work was underway to determine the cause of death, the police said in a statement.

Members of the Brazilian police transport the casket carrying the recovered human remains.Credit:Getty Images

The remains of a second person, believed to be that of indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, was still under analysis, a report by CNN Brasil said earlier in the day.

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 a fisherman who confessed to killing the two men.

“The remains of Dom Phillips were part of the material collected at the place indicated by Amarildo da Costa Oliveira,” police said.

British journalist Dom Phillips, right, and a Yanomami Indigenous man walk in Maloca Papiu village, Roraima state, Brazil, in 2019.Credit:AP

Phillips, a freelance reporter who had written 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.

Earlier in the day, police said their investigation suggested there were more individuals involved beyond the suspect who had confessed, but that so far the killers were believed to have acted without the involvement of a criminal organisation.

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

Indigenous affairs expert Bruno Pereira at a restaurant in Brazil in 2014.Credit:AP

Local indigenous group Univaja, however, which played a leading role in the search, said it had informed the federal police numerous times since late 2021 that there was an organised crime group operating in the Javari Valley.

“The cruelty of the crime makes clear that Pereira and Phillips crossed paths with a powerful criminal organisation that tried at all costs to cover its tracks during the investigation,” said Univaja.

INA, a union representing workers at Funai, shared the view.

“We all know that violence in the Javari Valley is linked to a wide chain of organised crime,” it said in a separate statement.

Police said they were still searching for the boat Phillips and Pereira were travelling in when they were last seen alive.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Friday (US time) called for “accountability and justice”, saying that Phillips and Pereira were murdered for supporting conservation of the rainforest and native peoples.

“Our condolences to the families of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira … We must collectively strengthen efforts to protect environmental defenders and journalists,” Price said on Twitter.


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