Protesters demanded justice for slain British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous peoples expert Bruno Araujo Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo by Fernando Bizerra/EPA-EFE
June 18 (UPI) — British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira were shot to death with hunting ammunition, Brazilian police said Saturday, four days after the missing men’s bodies were recovered.
The Amazonas state office of Brazil’s Federal Police and a government-formed crisis committee investigating the slayings said in a release the pair were killed by gunshot wounds caused by “typical hunting ammunition.”
Pereira’s body was identified through dental records on Friday, police said, a day after Phillips’ remains were similarly identified.
The Federal Police also announced Saturday that a third suspect, identified a Jefferson da Silva Lima, also known as “Pelado da Dinha,” was arrested in connection with the slayings. He surrendered at an Amazonas police station, they said.
Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, 41, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of participating in the slayings with his brother, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, who was already under police custody since last week.
Phillips and Pereira went missing while on a reporting trip in Brazil’s remote Javari Valley on June 5. Police said their bodies were found after Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, described as a fisherman, led police to the spot they were buried.
Phillips, 57, a long-time contributor to the Guardian newspaper, was in Amazonas while researching a book, the BBC reported. Pereira, 41, a one-time employee of the Brazilian indigenous affairs agency Funai, had received death threats prior to taking the trip, indigenous rights groups said.
The Javari region of far western Amazonas state where the bodies were found is Brazil’s second-largest indigenous reserve and is notorious as a haven for illegal fishing, drug trafficking and mineral extraction.
The region is frequently the scene of violent clashes between police, criminal gangs and indigenous people and Phillips was there to document the conflicts, the Spanish news agency EFE reported.