Sad certainty: House Phillips died in Brazil. A reporter reported illegal activities in a natural paradise. This probably put him in the criminals’ target.
Brasília – After days of searching for a missing British journalist and indigenous expert who also disappeared in the Brazilian rainforest, there is more and more evidence of an act of violence.
According to federal police, the remains of a man discovered in the Amazon were assigned to a reporter, House Phillips. Further research should provide information on the cause of death.
Other body parts found at a crime scene on the border with Peru and Colombia are further analyzed. These are believed to be the fatal remains of the indigenous expert Bruno Pereira. Both men disappeared during a trip to the Javari Valley in western Brazil.
Two suspects were arrested then. One pleaded guilty to participating in the murder of two men and led the police to human remains. According to the first results of the investigation, the alleged murderers were probably self-employed. “The investigation shows that the perpetrators were acting alone and that no client or criminal organization was behind the crime,” federal police said.
A third suspect reported on Saturday to authorities in Atalaia do Norte in the Amazon region. The man is now being questioned and brought to trial, the federal police said. According to the investigation, the suspect was directly involved in the double murder and was involved in the attack and the hiding of the bodies, police officer Alex Perez Timóteo said on the Globo TV channel.
“We are devastated to receive confirmation that Dom and Bruno were murdered,” the Phillips family said in a joint statement in the UK. “We are grateful to everyone who participated in the search, especially the indigenous groups that were constantly looking for evidence of an attack.”
Phillips has been living in Brazil for a long time and was married to a Brazilian. As a freelance journalist, he wrote for the British newspapers The Guardian and The Financial Times, as well as for the American newspapers The Washington Post and The New York Times.
The theme is still unclear
Recently, he studied a book on the protection of the Amazon, strong economic interests in its exploitation, and various development models. The motive for the alleged murder was initially unclear. Investigators check, for example, whether the crime is related to illegal fishing or drug trafficking.
The Javari Valley Indigenous Society lamented the “priceless loss” of “two partners.” It was primarily the indigenous people of the region who led the search for the missing from the very beginning. On the other hand, Brazil’s right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro initially blamed men. He said Phillips was “viewed poorly in the region” and should have “looked after himself more.”
Phillips and Pereira did not arrive in the town of Atalaia do Norte by boat on June 5 as planned, according to the regional Aboriginal organization. Pereira had previously reported to the police that he had been threatened several times. He registered illegal activities in the Javari Valley with the authorities.
The local Apib association said it had repeatedly alerted authorities to the activities of criminal groups in the region. “The cruelty of the crime shows that Pereira and Phillips have stood in the way of a powerful criminal organization that has been desperately trying to cover its tracks,” Apib said in a statement.
The region is plagued by conflicts
With an area slightly larger than Austria, the region is one of the largest indigenous areas in Brazil. Many indigenous people live in isolation there. The border area with Peru and Colombia is particularly affected by conflicts due to illegal gold prospecting, deforestation, hunting and illegal fishing, as well as drug smuggling. Brazil was the fourth most dangerous country for environmentalists in 2020, with 20 environmentalists and environmental activists killed there, according to the NGO Global Witness.
“The deaths of Dom and Bruno are a tragic reminder of just how deadly the struggle for land and indigenous rights can be, especially in Brazil, which is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for defenders of land and the environment,” the statement reads. by a global witness. “You have been heroic in your work to protect the Amazon, its people and the lungs of our planet. Brazilian authorities must investigate their deaths and bring their families to justice.