Remains of UK journalist Phillips identified in Brazil


    The remains of one of the two bodies found in the Amazon rainforest are those of UK journalist Dom Phillips, Brazilian police have confirmed.

    They say the identification was based on dental records.

    The second body – believed to be that of indigenous expert Bruno Pereira – is still being examined.

    Mr Phillips, 57, and Mr Pereira, 41, were first reported missing on 5 June. Earlier this week, a suspect confessed to burying the bodies.

    The suspect was later named as Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira. The police said he had explained in detail how both men were killed before leading officers to the place where their bodies were buried.

    The suspect’s brother, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, has also been arrested in connection with the killings, but denies any involvement.

    After the suspect’s confession, Dom Phillips’ family said they were “heartbroken”.

    “We are grateful to all those who have taken part in the search, especially the indigenous groups who worked tirelessly to find evidence of the attack,” they said in a statement on Wednesday.

    “We thank the many people who have joined us in urging the authorities to intensify the search and those who have reached out with words of comfort and sympathy,” they added.

    Mr Phillips’ wife, Alessandra Sampaio, said in a separate statement: “Now we can bring them home and say goodbye with love.” She added that the confession marked the beginning of a “quest for justice”.

    Mr Pereira had been introducing the journalist – who was writing a book on the Amazon – to contacts and acting as his guide when their boat failed to arrive at an expected point near the border with Peru.

    The pair went missing in the Javari valley, in Brazil’s far west, a remote region home to thousands of indigenous people from more than 20 groups. It is a refuge for these indigenous groups, who live in isolation from the outside world.

    Why is the Javari valley so dangerous?

    Experts say the area has become a hotbed for crime because of its remoteness and a lack of government oversight.

    As well as clashes with poachers catching protected fish, it has also seen incursions by illegal gold-miners, loggers and drug-traffickers who smuggle cocaine from nearby Peru and Colombia.

    Violence has also grown as drug-trafficking gangs battle for control of the area’s waterways to smuggle cocaine.

    The region – which is about the size of Portugal – is known for violent conflicts between these various criminal groups, government agents and indigenous people. It was these conflicts that Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira were documenting.

    And days before the pair went missing, indigenous groups say Mr Pereira was threatened for campaigning against illegal fishing. He had repeatedly reported being threatened by loggers, miners and illegal fishermen in the past.

    The search for the missing pair was initially criticised by relatives and campaign groups, who called on officials to act more quickly and broaden its scope.

    As global outrage grew at the disappearance, the 10-day search expanded until it involved the army, navy and police.

    The police also initially failed to praise the work of the indigenous communities who searched for the men and helped lead authorities to some of their belongings.

    When asked by the BBC why there was no mention of the local communities helping, they admitted it was an error and conceded that their support had been crucial.


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