Social Issues

Bodies found in search for men missing in Brazilian Amazon

(Update 1: Adds findings of bodies, details)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jun 13 (EFE).- Search parties looking for British journalist Dom Philips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in a remote area of the Amazon jungle have found two bodies, the missing journalist’s wife told a local reporter Monday.

The British Embassy has informed the journalist’s family of the discovery, according to Brazilian reporter André Tiguiero, who added that Alessandra Sampaio, the journalist’s wife, told him that Federal Police had advised her that a forensic examination was required before they could confirm their identities.

Phillips, a contributor to The Guardian newspaper, and Pereira disappeared on June 5, in the Javari Valley, a remote region in the Brazilian Amazon near the borders with Peru and Colombia, where they were conducting an investigation on threats against indigenous communities in the area.

Firefighters on Sunday found a backpack with a laptop and other personal items in the area where officials are searching for the missing pair.

According to the information provided by the Fire Brigade, the backpack — which also contained books and some clothes — belongs to one of the missing people, representatives of the Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (Univaja) said.

The bag, which will be sent to investigators for analysis, was found tied to a tree in a flooded area on a river bank, near the home of Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, better known as “Pelado,” the only suspect in the disappearances.

He was arrested on Friday after authorities found traces of blood on one of his boats.

After a week of searching the area yielded few results, non-governmental organizations and international bodies such as the UN Human Rights Office and the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged Jair Bolsonaro’s government to step up its efforts to find the two men.

The Javari Valley, Brazil’s second largest indigenous reserve, has seen conflicts between rival criminal groups vying over drug trafficking routes and engaging in illegal logging, mining and fishing.

Phillips and Pereira went missing when they were traveling from the community of Sao Rafael to the city of Atalaia do Norte, in the state of Amazonas, but they did not arrive as scheduled on June 5.

They were traveling in a new boat, loaded with enough gasoline for the trip, and were last seen near the community of Sao Gabriel, a few kilometers from Sao Rafael. EFE


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