Is this the epilogue of the sinister affair that has held Brazil in suspense for more than ten days? On Wednesday June 15, the country’s federal police announced that they had found “human remains” on the places where the research was concentrated in order to find the trace of the journalist Dom Phillips and the anthropologist Bruno Araujo Pereira, who disappeared in the Amazon in the Vale do Javari region. A major step forward for an investigation which until then had been confusing and extremely slow.
These “remains” would have been dug up a little more than three kilometers away from the Rio Itaquaí where the crime would have taken place and on which the two men were still sailing on June 5. An area covered with tropical forest, “very difficult to access” and devoid of any telephone signal, said Eduardo Alexandre Fontes, head of the federal police of the state of Amazonas, during a press conference organized in Manaus. The “material” collected must now be analyzed by a criminology institute. But already no one has any doubts about the identity of the victims.
In their search, the police received help from one of the suspects. Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, known as “Pelado” (naked, in Portuguese), a fisherman in the region, has indeed confessed to having participated in the assassination. According to the police, he would have “told in detail how the crime was committed”, unveiled “where the bodies had been buried” and that Phillips and Pereira’s boat had sunk. Without waiting, on June 15, “Pelado” was therefore taken to the site in order to reconstruct the events. ” We would never have managed to get to this place quickly without his confession”insisted Mr. Fontes.
“It’s a big step in this heinous affair, this brutal crime”added the police chief, not hesitating to address the passage a real satisfaction to the security forces.
The sequence, however, cast a harsh light on the incredible disorganization of the research teams. Reluctant to intervene, the army took several days before deploying in the Vale do Javari. It took extensive media mobilization and the emergency intervention of the Union’s Public Defense on June 6 for the police and navy to use helicopters and boats in their on-site investigations.
A deplorable episode has come to illustrate this extreme confusion. On June 12, personal effects (backpack, health card, clothes, sandals, etc.) belonging to the two men were discovered attached to a tree under water by firefighter divers. The next day, the British Embassy informed Dom Phillips’ relatives that the bodies of the missing had finally been found. But the relief will only be short-lived and the information quickly denied publicly by the authorities in Brasilia. In private, however, the diplomats claim to have been informed by senior sources within the police…
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