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Brazil: Police confirm remains belong to British journalist

June 17, 2022

A forensic examination on remains found in the Amazon confirmed they belonged to British journalist Dom Phillips. A second set of remains, believed to be those of Bruno Pereira, are still being analyzed.

Dom Phillips in front of a mine in Brazil in 2019
Veteran foreign correspondent Dom Phillips visits a mine in Roraima State, Brazil in 2019Image: Joao Laet/AFP/Getty Images

Brazilian police said human remains located in the Amazon have been identified as those of British journalist Dom Phillips.

The country's federal police concluded the results after a forensic examination was carried out. In a statement, authorities said Phillips was identified using "forensic dentistry combined with forensic anthropology." 

What is known about the investigation?

There is currently an investigation under way to determine what caused Phillips' death.

A second set of human remains, believed to be those of indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, were still undergoing analysis, CNN Brasil reported.

Phillips was a long time contributor to The Guardian and, at the time of his disappearance, was working on a book on sustainable development in the Amazon with Pereira as his guide.

Earlier Friday, police said that those responsible for the alleged murders "acted alone, without there being an intellectual author or criminal organization behind the crime."

The police statement added, "The investigations continue and there are indications of the participation of more people."

The Univaja association of Indigenous peoples, for which Pereira has been an adviser, refuted the suggestion that the killers acted alone and there was no larger organization behind the murders.

What happened to Phillips and Pereira?

The pair disappeared on June 5 on the border with Peru and Columbia in the remote Javari Valley.

The location where they vanished is a part of the rainforest noted for illegal mining, fishing and logging, as well as drug trafficking. Experts point to the illegal fishing of endangered species in the Javari Valley, which occurs under the watch of drug traffickers who can launder money this way.

Police discovered the remains after being led to them by local fishermen who confessed to the killings.

Suspect confesses to killing pair in Amazon

One suspect said he used a firearm against the pair.

The bodies were located near Atalaia do Norte — the city Phillips and Pereira were returning to when they disappeared in the Javari Valley after receiving threats during a trip.

Activists have blamed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for permitting commercial exploitation of the Amazon which has permitted criminal gangs to thrive. Bolsonaro has responded by blaming the pair for their "reckless" decision to travel to areas where Phillips was "disliked."

ar/jsi (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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