Brazilian police and investigators say no body found in search of British journalists


Brazil’s Atarai Adnorte — Brazilian police and indigenous investigative teams dismissed reports on Monday that they found the bodies of British reporters and Brazilian indigenous experts missing in the Amazon jungle. Did.

According to police, investigative teams found the belongings of freelance reporter Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, a former employee of the Federal Indigenous Peoples Funai, in the last river stream seen on June 5.

However, a statement from federal police and a spokesman for the Local Indigenous Peoples Association UNIVAJA, which has been organizing the search since June 5, denied subsequent reports of the two groups found in the search.

Search operations for missing British journalists in the Amazon jungle
Police officers and rescue workers are standing on a boat during a search for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira. Norte, State of Amazonas, Brazil, June 12, 2022. (Bruno Kelly / Reuters)

“I talked to the team in the field, but that’s not true,” said Eliesio Marubo, a UNIVAJA lawyer. “The search will continue.”

More than 100 indigenous people marched on Monday in Ataraia Adnorte, the nearest town where Phillips and Pereira were last seen, demanding better treatment and justice for the two men.

They were on a reporting trip in a remote jungle area near the border between Peru and Colombia, home to the world’s largest uncontacted people. Wild and lawless areas, along with illegal loggers, miners and hunters, have seduced gangsters smuggling cocaine.

News of the pair’s disappearance echoed worldwide, and human rights groups, environmentalists, and advocates of free press urged Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to step up his search.

Bolsonaro, who once faced a tough question from Phillips over weakening environmental law enforcement at a press conference, speculates that the two men may have been executed last week, saying they were “on an unrecommended adventure.” did.

The incident was thrown into turmoil early on Monday by a report of a diplomatic briefing for Phillips’ family.

The Guardian reported that a Brazilian diplomat had told journalist brother-in-law Paul Sherwood that authorities were working to identify two bodies tied to a tree near the river.

Brazilian authorities and search teams have not provided any support for its development.

A police statement on Sunday described the belongings of the two men recovered, including Pereira’s ID card. A firefighter on the search team told reporters in a backpack with clothes and a laptop tied to a tree trunk near the river.

Brazilian police also said late Friday that they were analyzing “organic matter” found in the river to see if it was human, but four people involved in the investigation told Reuters that it was likely of animal origin.

Sources said Phillips and Pereira were found near the port of Atarai Adnorte, more than 40 miles (65 km) downstream from where they were last seen in the slow-moving river. The condition of the material suggested that it could have been scrap from a nearby butcher rather than being carried downstream.

The Brazilian Embassy in London confirmed that it was in contact with the Phillips family, but did not comment on the details provided at the briefing. I couldn’t ask my relatives from Phillips for comment.

State police detectives involved in the investigation told Reuters that they were focusing on poachers and illegal fishermen in areas that frequently collided with Pereira, who organized indigenous patrols in the local reserve.

Police arrested a fisherman, Amarildo da Costa, known as “Perado,” on suspicion of weapons and detained him while investigating the case.

Costa lawyers and their families say he denied that he had legally fished in the river and played a role in the disappearance of men.

Jake Spring