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

Amarildo da Cosa Oliveira, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima have been charged for the crimes committed in the Javari Valley, according to a statement released Friday by the federal prosecutor’s office.

Veteran journalist Phillips and indigenous expert Pereira disappeared on June 5 while traveling in the far west of Amazonas state. Their deaths in this remote region drew global attention to the perils that journalists and environmental activists often face in Brazil.

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

Amarildo and Jefferson reportedly confessed to the crime in June, and Amarildo led authorities to the bodies. However, Oseney’s involvement was established by witness statements, according to the federal prosecutor’s office.

“There were already records of disagreements between Bruno and Amarildo over illegal fishing in the indigenous territory,” the statement said.

“What motivated the murders was the fact that Bruno asked Dom to photograph the defendant’s boat,” he alleged.

Pereira was allegedly the target of the crime, while Philips “was murdered simply because he was with Bruno”, in order “to ensure impunity for the previous crime”, according to the statement.

Phillips and Pereira were conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts in the area, which authorities have described as ‘complicated’ and ‘dangerous’, and known to be home to illegal miners, loggers and international drug traffickers. .

They were last seen in the community of Sao Rafael, two hours by boat from the town of Atalaia do Norte, after accompanying an indigenous patrol in the Itaquaí River organized to prevent invasions by illegal fishermen and hunters on the indigenous lands of the Javari Valley.

They reportedly received death threats just days before their disappearance.

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

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

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

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