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Slain British reporter buried in Rio de Janeiro

Monday, June 27th 2022 - 08:37 UTC
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The story on which Phillips was working still needs to be told, his sister said The story on which Phillips was working still needs to be told, his sister said

British reporter Dom Phillips, who was murdered earlier this month while venturing into Amazonia to gather material for a book, has been laid to rest in Niterói, in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro.

Phillips and indigenous affairs expert Bruno Araújo Pereira were killed in Vale do Javari, in the state of Amazonas. Pereira was cremated Friday in Paulista, in the metropolitan region of Recife, in the state of Pernambuco.

The British journalist's family arrived at Parque da Colina cemetery around 9:00 am, when Phillips' wake began. The ceremony was followed by the cremation of his remains.

Dom's widow, Alessandra Sampaio, and Dom's sister, Sian Phillips, read pronouncements in Portuguese and English to the press, highlighting the Briton's love for Brazil, his commitment to environmental conservation, and the need to continue his fight.

Sampaio thanked the support she received from the indigenous people, the press, journalist friends, and everyone who participated in the search and stood in solidarity with Dom, Bruno, and their families.

“Today, Dom will be cremated in the country he loved, his chosen home, Brazil,” she said. “Dom was a very special person, not only for defending what he believed in as a professional, but also for having a huge heart and a great love for humanity.”

The widow said the family will follow closely the investigations, “demanding Justice in the most comprehensive meaning of the term,” she stressed. “We renew our fight so that our pain and that of Bruno Pereira's family will not be repeated, as well as that of the families of other journalists and environmental defenders, who remain at risk.

Sian Phillips said that Alessandra and the journalist were planning to adopt two Brazilian children, and recalled that Dom was passionate about football, music, and Brazil's natural landscapes. ”As we remember Dom as a kind, fun, and cool older brother, we are saddened that he was denied the chance to share these qualities, as a father, to the next generation,“ she said.

The journalist's sister pointed out that he was a professional who shared a diverse range of stories about Brazilians, from the rich and powerful to slum dwellers and indigenous peoples.

”He was killed because he tried to tell the world what was happening to the forest and [to] its inhabitants. His mission confronted the interests of individuals who are determined to exploit the Amazon Rainforest without concern for the destructive impact of their illegal activities,“ she said.

Sian said that Dom was working on a book about sustainable development models that can ensure the preservation of the Amazon, both as a home for traditional peoples and as a stabilizing factor for the global climate.

”Dom understood the need for urgent change in both the political and economic approach to conservation. Family and friends are committed to continuing this work, even in this time of tragedy. The story needs to be told.“

Outside the cemetery, a group of protesters carried a banner that asked, ”Who ordered the killing of Dom and Bruno?” According to the Federal Police investigation, there is no evidence that the criminal action that killed the two men was ordered by a mastermind. Phillips and Pereira were last seen in the Javari Valley on June 5, and, after a search, their remains were found on June 15. On the following day, the bodies were taken to Brasília, where they were examined and identified by the National Institute of Forensic Science.

The remains were located at a spot pointed to authorities by fisherman Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, known as Pelado, one of the suspects who has already confessed to the crime and is under arrest.

Dom Phillips was a contributor to the British newspaper The Guardian and had previously produced reports on deforestation in the Amazon forest. (Source: Agencia Brasil)

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