The Brazilian president confirmed, Monday, that human remains were found during the search for a British journalist and a Brazilian indigenous expert who disappeared deep in the Amazon region after receiving threats.
Meanwhile, relatives of veteran reporter Dom Phillips and respected Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira said they were told by authorities that two bodies had been found – although police and local Indigenous leaders denied this, adding to the confusion over the case.
The families of Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, have endured an agonizing wait for news since the pair disappeared a week ago on Sunday during a press trip to Brazil’s Javari Valley, a remote jungle region filled with illegal fishing, logging, mining and drugs. Trafficking.
“The evidence leads us to believe that something bad happened to them, because human entrails were found floating in the river, which are now undergoing DNA testing,” President Jair Bolsonaro said.
The development came a day after police announced that they had found personal belongings belonging to the two, including a Pereira health card, pants and shoes, as well as a backpack and Phillips clothes.
Bolsonaro, whose government has faced accusations of failing to act urgently enough on the case, said hope was fading.
“Because of the time that has passed – eight days now, approaching the ninth – it will be very difficult to find them alive,” the president told CBN Radio Recife.
“I pray that it happens, but the information and evidence we are getting suggests otherwise.”
“annoyed and annoyed”
Dominic Davies, Phillips’ niece, told AFP via text message that authorities had informed the family that two bodies had been found.
“We are awaiting confirmation from the Federal Police (in Brazil) as to whether they are Dom and Bruno. We are all still upset and upset at this time,” she said.
The British newspaper The Guardian, where Phillips was a regular contributor, said the bodies were found tied to a tree, according to information provided by an aide to the Brazilian ambassador in London to the Phillips family.
The Federal Police said in a statement that reports that the bodies of Phillips and Pereira had been found were incorrect. The Federation of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA), which is involved in the search, denied finding two bodies.
Police confirmed that they are analyzing a blood sample and human remains of a suspect found during the search to determine whether they are among the missing men.
They said the results of these analyzes are expected “during this week”.
On Monday, Pereira’s wife, Beatrice Matos, said on Twitter that police had confirmed “no body was found”.
Brazilian police have arrested the suspect in the case, 41-year-old Amarildo Costa de Oliveira, nicknamed “Pelado”.
Witnesses say they saw him threatening Phillips and Pereira before they disappeared, and then following them into his boat before they disappeared.
The blood sample that was analyzed was found on a tarp in Oliveira’s boat.
The research was complicated by the difficult jungle terrain of the remote Javari Valley, as men traveled by boat to gather material for a book Phillips was writing about sustainable ways to protect the world’s largest rainforest.
U2 adds to the pressure
The Brazilian government is facing pressure from international media organizations, rights groups and prominent personalities over the issue – prompting criticism of Bolsonaro’s policies in the Amazon region, where illegal deforestation and other environmental crimes have surged since he took office in 2019.
Dozens of indigenous protesters demonstrated on Monday in Atalaia do Norte, the small town that Phillips and Pereira were heading to, demanding answers about their whereabouts.
“It’s been a week…and every day comes with conflicting reports,” Natalie Southwick, the Latin America coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said in a statement.
CPJ remains deeply concerned about the government’s inadequate response and lack of transparency. The Brazilian authorities must stop slowing down.”
Irish rock band U2 has become the latest band to champion the cause, joining Brazilian football legend Pele and famous singer Caetano Veloso.
“We are waiting to find out what happened to these brave men,” the band tweeted, along with a red and black drawing by artist Cristiano Sequeira.
“Where are Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira?” you read.
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