Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira: Family of murdered Briton say they are ‘heartbroken’

The two were last seen in the Amazon’s Javari Valley

<p>Supporters in the UK had called for greater efforts to find the pair </p>

Supporters in the UK had called for greater efforts to find the pair

The family of Dom Phillips, the British journalist killed in the Amazon, have said they are “heartbroken” over his death and that of his colleague, Bruno Pereira.

A statement issued on behalf of the brother and sister of Phillips and their immediate family, came just hours after a fisherman confessed to killing the pair in a remote area of the Amazon rainforest.

Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, had been missing since 5 June after they were last seen in the Javari Valley.

The statement read: “We are heartbroken at the confirmation that Dom and Bruno were murdered and extend our deepest sympathies to Alessandra, Beatriz and the other Brazilian family members of both men.

“We are grateful to all those who have taken part in the search, especially the Indigenous groups who worked tirelessly to find evidence of the attack.”

Police said the 41-year-old suspect, identified as Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira and nicknamed Pelado, used a firearm to kill Phillips and Pereira.

The suspect led the officers deep into the forest where human remains were buried, seemingly ending more than a week-long search for the missing pair.

However, the suspect’s family has accused the police of torturing him into a confession, while denying that he was involved in any wrongdoing.

Search teams brought body bags to the docks at the city of Atalaia do Norte. Officials said they would conduct an autopsy to confirm whether the remains are of the pair.

“We would have no way of getting to that spot quickly without the confession,” the investigator said of the place where police recovered human remains.

“We found the bodies three kilometres into the woods,” he said, adding that rescue teams had to travel for nearly an hour and 40 minutes on the river and further into the woods to reach the burial spot.

On Monday, items belonging to both missing men – including their clothing and Phillips’s health identification card – were found, according to police.

The remains of the pair will be returned to families within days following a confirmation, police said.

Amazonas state police officer Guilherme Torres noted that the missing men’s boat had not been found yet but police knew the area where it was allegedly hidden. Officers added that the engine of the boat was removed.

“They put bags of dirt on the boat so it would sink,” Mr Torres.

Veteran foreign correspondent Dom Phillips visits in a mine in the Brazilian state of Roraima

Phillips’s wife Alessandra Sampaio in a statement released on Wednesday said the tragic outcome “puts an end to the anguish of not knowing Dom and Bruno’s whereabouts”.

“Today, we also begin our quest for justice. I hope that the investigations exhaust all possibilities and bring definitive answers on all relevant details as soon as possible,” she said.

“Now we can bring them home and say goodbye with love.”

She thanked everyone involved in the search operation, especially the “Indigenous peoples and Univaja [an association of Indigenous peoples of the Javari Valley]”.

Indigenous leaders who sounded the alarm over their disappearance and began the searches deep into the forest were reportedly not invited to Wednesday’s press conference in Manaus.

The two men’s deaths are linked to illegal fishing, as Pereira was reportedly threatened by people engaged in the activity before going missing. The father of three, who previously led the local bureau of the federal Indigenous agency known as Funai, took part in several operations against illegal fishing.

Pereira was fired from his position at federal Indigenous agency known as Funai in what was seen to be a politically motivated move

Pereira was fired from his position at Funai in what was seen to be a politically motivated move, soon after president Jair Bolsonaro came to power in the country.

Phillips has written for The Guardian, The Financial Times and other publications and was travelling in Brazil for work with Pereira when they went missing.

Additional inputs from agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in