Dom Philips and Bruno Pereira: Brazil charges three men with the murder of a British journalist and indigenous expert

Dom Philips and Bruno Pereira: Brazil charges three men with the murder of a British journalist and indigenous expert

Amarildo da Cosa Oliveira, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima were treated as defendants for the crimes committed in the Javari Valley, according to a statement released by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office on Friday.

Veteran journalist Phillips and indigenous expert Pereira disappeared on June 5 during a trip to the western part of the state of Amazonas. Their deaths in the remote region have drawn global attention to the dangers that journalists and environmental activists often face in Brazil.

A federal court judge in Amazonas lifted the confidentiality of the details of the case on Thursday.

Amarildo and Jefferson reportedly confessed to the crime in June, and Amarildo led authorities to the bodies. However, Oseney’s participation was established through witness statements, according to federal prosecutors.

“There were already recorded disagreements between Bruno and Amarildo over illegal fishing in the indigenous people’s territory,” the statement said.

“What motivated the murders was the fact that Bruno had asked Dom to photograph the accused’s boat,” it said.

Pereira was suggested to have been the target of the crime, while Philips “was murdered just to be with Bruno,” to “ensure impunity for the previous crime,” the statement said.

Phillips and Pereira were conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts in the region, which authorities have described as “complicated” and “dangerous”, and known to harbor illegal miners, loggers and international drug traffickers.

They were last seen in the Sao Rafael community, a two-hour boat ride from the city of Atalaia do Norte, after following an indigenous patrol in the Itaquaí River organized to prevent invasions by illegal fishermen and hunters on the Javari Valley’s indigenous lands.

They are said to have received death threats just days before they disappeared.

Between 2009 and 2019, more than 300 people were killed in Brazil during land and resource conflicts in the Amazon, according to Human Rights Watch, citing figures from the Pastoral Land Commission, a non-profit organization affiliated with the Catholic Church.

And in 2020, Global Witness ranked Brazil as the fourth most dangerous country for environmental activism, based on documented killings of environmental defenders. Almost three-quarters of such attacks in Brazil took place in the Amazon region, it said.

CNN’s Camilo Rocha, Rodrigo Pedroso and Philip Wang contributed reporting.

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