ATALAIA DO NORTE: British journalist Dom Phillips and his Brazilian guide, whose disappearance in the Amazon some two weeks ago sparked an international outcry, have been shot dead, Brazilian police said on Saturday (June 18).
A day after investigators identified remains found buried in a remote part of the Amazon as those of Phillips, authorities said a second set of remains belonged to his guide, indigenous expert Bruno Pereira.
Authorities said both men were shot victims: Phillips, 57, was shot once in the chest, Pereira, 41, was shot three times, one in the head, with ammunition typically used for hunting.
Pereira, an outspoken defender of indigenous rights, had received multiple death threats.
The two men disappeared on June 5 in an isolated part of the rainforest plagued by illegal mining, fishing and logging, as well as drug trafficking.
Ten days later, a suspect took police to a location near the city of Atalaia do Norte, in the western state of Amazonas, where he said he had buried bodies. Shortly after, the suspect’s brother was also arrested.
Police said Saturday that another suspect in the case, whom they identified as Jefferson da Silva Lima, also known as “Pelado da Dinha,” turned himself in at the Atalaia do Norte police station.
Commissioner Alex Pérez Timoteo told the G1 news site that the evidence and testimony collected so far indicate that the suspect “was at the scene of the crime and actively participated in the double homicide that occurred.”
Timoteo also told reporters that it is “quite likely” that there will be more arrests in the case in the coming days.
“We are going to try to understand if there was a previous agreement (between the suspects), if they had been planning this situation,” said the commissioner, adding that the third suspect had no relationship with the two brothers.
Police had said on Friday that they believed the perpetrators had “acted alone, with no mastermind or criminal organization behind the crime.”
Activists have blamed the killings on President Jair Bolsonaro for allowing commercial exploitation of the Amazon at the expense of the environment and law and order.
For his part, Bolsonaro sought to blame the men’s own door for undertaking a “reckless” trip in an area where Phillips “was not to his liking.”