Crime & Justice

Brazil holds suspected mastermind of double-murder in Amazonia

Sao Paulo, Jul 8 (EFE).- Brazil’s Federal Police said Friday that they are holding a man suspected of having ordered the killings of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous guide Bruno Araujo Pereira.

The individual, known by the nickname “Colombia,” showed up at the police station in Tabatinga after learning through the media that he was suspected of being behind the double-murder.

He was taken into custody after presenting what officers determined to be a false Brazilian identification under the name of Rubens Villar Coelho, Eduardo Fontes, Federal Police superintendent in Amazonas state, told a press conference in Manaus.

“We don’t know his true identity,” Fontes said. “There is information that he has identifications from three countries and each with a different name. He will flee if he is released, which is sufficient to request preventive detention.”

Colombia categorically denied any connection to the killings of Phillips and Pereira, according to police, who said that the suspect is involved in illegal fishing.

Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, were last seen alive on June 5 making their way by boat on the Javari River in a remote corner of Amazonia that borders Colombia and Peru.

Two illegal fisherman known to be active in the area were arrested and one of them, Amarildo Da Costa Oliveira “Pelado,” ultimately confessed to killing the two men.

On June 16, he led authorities to the site where the bodies were buried near the town of Atalaia do Norte, where the two men had gone as part of research for a book Phillips was writing about threats to uncontacted indigenous people.

Phillips had long reported on illegal mining and environmental destruction in the area for British daily The Guardian and other media outlets.

Pereira, a former employee of the national indigenous affairs agency, Funai, had received threats from poachers, illegal fishermen, wildcat miners, and even drug traffickers operating in the Javari Valley Indigenous Reservation – home to the largest number of uncontacted tribes in the world. EFE as/dr

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