The bodies of British reporter Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous affairs expert Bruno Araújo Pereira were found lifeless in Amazonia Wednesday while the two suspects arrested in connection with the case have reportedly confessed to committing the murders.
Justice Minister Anderson Torres said human remains had been found at the site where they were looking for Phillips and Pereira, who disappeared June 5 while venturing into the region in search of information for a book.
I have just been informed by the Federal Police that human remains were found at the site where excavations were being carried out, Torres wrote on Twitter.
The announcement comes after several local media reported that the two suspects arrested in the case told police that Phillips and Pereira were killed and confessed to their involvement in the crime.
This Wednesday, one of them was taken by boat by police to the site of the searches from the city of Atalaia do Norte, where he was being held, according to local TV images. A suspect confessed his responsibility in the disappearance of an indigenous expert and a British journalist in a remote area of the Amazon, and subsequently led police officers to the place where the bodies were buried, said Wednesday the head of the Federal Police in the state of Amazonas.
Officer Eduardo Alexandre Torres said in a press conference that the main suspect had confessed Tuesday night and released details of what had happened to Pereira and Phillips. Torres also said the man led police on Wednesday to the site where the human remains were retrieved, although the remains have not yet been identified. We found the bodies 3 kilometers into the jungle, Torres explained.
According to the police, the suspects are Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, known as Dos Santos, arrested Tuesday, and his brother Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, alias Pelado, who was arrested last week. They have reportedly confessed to having murdered Phillips and Pereira, according to police sources quoted Wednesday by local media.
A contributor to The Guardian, Phillips, 57, was preparing a book on environmental preservation in the Amazon during the expedition. Pereira, an expert from the Brazilian government's agency for indigenous affairs (Funai), was guiding Phillips in the dangerous and difficult-to-access region of the Javari Valley, a strategic zone for drug traffickers where illegal miners, fishermen, and loggers also operate. The two were last seen on Sunday, June 5, while sailing on the Itaquai River.
President Jair Bolsonaro had said this week that human viscera were found floating in the river, although this information was not confirmed by the Federal Police. Bolsonaro had called Phillips and Pereira's raid a non-recommendable adventure and on Wednesday said the reporter was frowned upon in the Amazon region for his reporting on illegal activities such as mining. That Englishman was frowned upon in the region, because he did a lot of reporting against illegal miners, [on] the environmental issue, Bolsonaro explained in an interview.