Third man arrested in Amazon slayings of journalist and activist
By Ana Ionova
A third person was arrested Saturday in connection with the killings of a British journalist and a Brazilian expert on Indigenous peoples who went missing while deep in the Amazon nearly two weeks ago, police said before sharing details about how the two men were murdered.
The disappearance of Dom Phillips, 57, a freelance journalist, and Bruno Araújo Pereira, 41, a former government official who worked in the area to combat illegal fishing, hunting and mining, prompted a 10-day search and later a manhunt in Brazil’s dense Atlantic rainforest.
An analysis of human remains discovered in the region earlier this week determined they were those of Phillips and Pereira.
Phillips was shot in the chest, the federal police said in a statement Saturday, adding that Pereira was shot in the head and abdomen. The men had been killed by a “firearm with typical hunting ammunition,” according to a police statement.
Jefferson da Silva Lima turned himself in at a police station in Atalaia do Norte in the Amazon Saturday, after initially fleeing an arrest warrant. Authorities had previously arrested two brothers, Amarildo and Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, in connection with the men’s disappearance.
Earlier this week, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira confessed to killing the men and led police to a remote part of the Amazon rainforest where their remains had been buried.
By Saturday evening, none of the three arrested men had been charged.
Witnesses saw the de Oliveira brothers in a boat following Phillips and Pereira shortly before they disappeared on a remote river, according to investigative documents viewed by The New York Times. A day earlier, the brothers had threatened a group that included Phillips and Pereira by showing them a gun, according to the local Indigenous group Univaja.
Phillips and Pereira were last seen June 5 while traveling in a boat on the Itaquaí River in the northern Brazilian state of Amazonas, near the borders with Peru and Colombia.
Phillips had gone to the Javari Valley Indigenous reservation to interview Indigenous patrol teams cracking down on illegal fishing and hunting there. Pereira helped create those patrols, and his work had won him enemies among criminal fishermen, poachers and miners in the region. Phillips had been working on a book during the trip, and the two men were headed home when they vanished.