Amazon: a suspect says he buried the bodies of the two missing men
In Atalaia do Norte in the Amazon, Brazilian federal police officers take a suspect to the river on June 15, 2022 where expert Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips disappeared ten days earlier.

This resembles, ten days later, the outcome of the intriguing disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian expert Bruno Pereira in the Amazon. A suspect arrested after the two men disappeared admitted to burying their bodies, and showed authorities their whereabouts.

“Last night we obtained a confession from the first of the two arrested suspects (…) who recounted in detail how the crime was committed and told us where the bodies had been buried”, explained, Wednesday, June 15, at a press conference, the head of the federal police of the State of Amazonas, Eduardo Alexandre Fontes. The latter added that the suspect had admitted to having participated in the ” crime “without specifying its role.

“Excavations have been carried out on site, the excavations will continue, but human remains have already been found”he said. “As soon as we have been able to verify thanks to the expertise that these are indeed the remains of the bodies of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, they will be returned to the families”.

Read also: Brazil: the laborious search for the disappeared in the Amazon

A few hours before this announcement, the television cameras had filmed one of the two arrested suspects leaving a police station to be taken by boat to the scene of the searches carried out by the police.

Two suspects

The first suspect was arrested on June 7, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, a 41-year-old fisherman, nicknamed “Pelado” (“naked”, in French). Witnesses said they saw him pass at high speed on board a boat going in the same direction as the boat of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, before their disappearance. The second suspect, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, known as “Dos Santos”, was arrested on Tuesday, “suspected of involvement in the case”according to the federal police.

President Jair Bolsonaro had already mentioned Monday “viscera floating in water” which would have been found during the search, information not confirmed by the police. On Sunday, the authorities announced that they had found personal effects of the two missing persons.

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The British journalist and the Brazilian expert were last seen on June 5, during an expedition to the Javari Valley area. This region close to the border with Peru and Colombia is reputed to be very dangerous, there are multiple drug trafficking, fishing or illegal gold panning.

It has become in recent years a strategic axis for gangs of drug traffickers who transport cocaine or cannabis produced in countries neighboring Brazil by river.

“Poor seen” in the Amazon

Author of dozens of reports on the Amazon, Dom Phillips, 57, moved to Brazil fifteen years ago and is married to a Brazilian. He had once again traveled to the area as part of his research for a book on environmental conservation. Bruno Pereira, 41, a recognized expert and defender of the rights of indigenous peoples, worked for many years at the Brazilian government agency for indigenous affairs (Funai).

In particular, he directed the Funai branch in Atalaia do Norte, a place where the two men were supposed to go by boat when they disappeared, as well as a program to protect isolated indigenous groups in the Javari Valley. Father of three, Bruno Pereira has repeatedly recounted being the target of threats by loggers, miners and illegal fishermen who tried to encroach on protected land.

A demonstration in support of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, in Manaus, Brazil, on June 15, 2022.

Their disappearance has sparked outrage around the world, with reactions from high-profile politicians and celebrities like members of Irish rock band U2.

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Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who favors the mining and farming of indigenous reserves in the Amazon, has been heavily criticized for calling the two men’s expedition a“unsavory adventure”. On Wednesday he claimed that Dom Phillips was “bad view” in the Amazon because he had written “numerous reports against gold miners, on the environment”.

“In this very isolated area, a lot of people didn’t like him. He should have redoubled his precautions (…) Over there, there are pirates on the river, it is imprudent to survey the place without being armed”he added, during an interview with the Youtube channel of journalist Leda Nagle.

Read also: Amazonia: two disappearances and a disaster

The World with AFP

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