Crime & Justice

Rio de Janeiro bids farewell to UK journalist murdered in Amazon

Niteroi, Brazil, Jun 26 (EFE).- Rio de Janeiro on Sunday bade farewell to British journalist Dom Phillips, who was murdered in the Brazilian Amazon region along with indigenous activist Bruno Araujo Pereira and whose remains were cremated amid protests over his death and demands for justice from his family, friends, colleagues and rights activists.

Phillips – who had worked for Great Britain’s The Guardian and was a correspondent for The Washington Post and the New York Times, along with the UK’s Financial Times – had a wake and was cremated in Niteroi, in Rio de Janeiro’s metro area, where he had spent the greater part of the 15 years he had lived and worked in Brazil.

“Who ordered Dom and Bruno killed?” read a sign held up by a group of social activists who started gathering early Sunday morning outside the funeral home to say their last goodbyes to the 57-year-old journalist.

Wearing black t-shirts as a sign of mourning and holding up printed photos of Phillips at work in the Amazon region, the activists joined hands with his relatives, journalism colleagues, friends and British diplomatic representatives.

“Reporters and defenders of the environment remain at risk,” Brazilian businesswoman Alessandra Sampaio – Phillips’ widow – told reporters, and she thanked the country’s indigenous peoples who “are continuing (to work) with us regarding the life of the forest,” as well as the people who worked for 10 days in the search for the bodies of the pair.

Phillips and Araujo had gone missing on June 5 near the border with Peru and Colombia in a remote part of Brazil’s Amazon.

Sampaio emphasized the work of the “government entities and the physical persons” to collaborated in the search, as well as Phillips’ fellow reporters “who have been instrumental in demanding the resolution of the case.”

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

The reporter’s sister, Sian Phillips, meanwhile, said that her brother was a “brilliant” journalist who was committed to reporting on Brazil’s diversity, along with the residents of the country’s shantytowns, or “favelas,” and its indigenous peoples.

He was killed, she said, because he tried to tell the world what is happening in the tropical rainforest regarding its residents and the impact of illegal activities on the jungle. She added that he was killed while trying to help the indigenous peoples and that both he and Araujo understood the risk of doing that.

Phillips’ body arrived in Rio on Thursday night after DNA testing was completed in Brasilia, which was required to positively identify him due to the advanced state of decomposition of the remains due to the fact that he had been missing for 10 days in a hot, humid environment as well as the violence done to the bodies, which had been dismembered.

The bodies of Phillips and Araujo were found near the town of Atalaia do Norte, to where they had traveled to gather information for the book the journalist was writing about threats against the local indigenous peoples, to which Araujo had also been subjected.

So far, four suspects have been arrested for their participation in the double murder and another four are being sought by Brazilian authorities. Two of those in custody have confessed to being directly involved in the killings.

EFE jq-wgm/laa/bp

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