Brazilian police say a man has confessed to killing Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira on Amazon

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RIO DE JANEIRO – A fisherman has confessed to killing a British journalist and a Brazilian indigenous expert in the Javari Valley in the Amazon rainforest, police said Wednesday night, and led investigators to an isolated location where human remains were found.

The announcement appeared to have the bleak outcome of the disappearance of journalist Dom Phillips and government official Bruno Pereira in One of the most remote areas of the country, which has stunned this nation and drawn new attention to the ongoing criminality that leads to the dismantling of the largest tropical forest in the world.

Authorities say the fisherman admitted to ambushed Philips, who is based in Brazil A Guardian contributor and former contract writer for the Washington Post, Pereira, a longtime official with Brazil’s Indigenous Affairs Agency, this month in an uninhabited area of ​​a river that leads to the city of Atalaya do Norte.

“He admitted to this crime and told us the details of where the bodies were buried,” said Eduardo Alexandre Fontes, chief of the federal police in the state of Amazonas. “Once it is established that these remains are related to Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, our plan is to return them to the family as quickly as possible.”

He said the human remains were sent for analysis.

The man who police said confessed to the crime, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, reportedly made threats against Pereira.

Oliveira, 41, known as “Pelado,” was arrested last week. Can Pereira Investigate criminal activity by outsiders within an indigenous reserve in the Javari Valley.

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“Our first task was to find them alive, but unfortunately we have passed this sad news to family, friends and the international press,” Detective Guilherme Torres said.

The announcement was grieved by the indigenous people with whom Pereira was collaborating and whose struggles Phillips was documenting against illegal invasions.

“An incalculable loss,” the local indigenous association Univaja said in a statement.

The case has been closely watched in Brazil, where the Amazon rainforest and whether it should be developed or preserved has become one of the country’s most divisive questions. President Jair Bolsonaro, a staunch advocate of development who has championed illegal miners and deforestation, blamed Phillips for his disappearance. In a statement on Wednesday, he said the journalist was “disliked in the region.”

“He has written a lot of stories against gold mining and environmental issues,” Bolsonaro said. “In that area, a very isolated area, not many people liked him. He should have doubled down on caring for himself. But he decided to take this trip.”

Pereira and Phillips were last seen alive early in the morning on June 5, when they left a meeting with residents of a riverside community. Initial hopes that the men had lost or suffered some mechanical trouble soon gave way to suspicion of foul game.

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Pereira, who has been mapping criminal activity in the valley and collaborating with an indigenous control team to monitor and repel illegal land invaders intent on stripping it of its resources, has been threatened by this action. One of the threats sent to his partner’s Aboriginal organization mentioned him by name and warned that “it would be worse for you” if they didn’t stop trying to fend off the illegal incursions.

Phillips, who has been writing a book on conservation in the Amazon, recently called Pereira to discuss an expedition to the Amazon. The valley is larger than the state of South Carolina It is considered the largest repository of offline people in the world. Phillips told his wife, Alessandra Sampaio, he expected to be off the reserve within days, according to a statement she provided to investigators.

Sampaio said Phillips did not tell her that he was under threat either before or during the expedition. She said he spoke “generally” of the Pereira threat and that the area was in a state of conflict.

Phillips and Pereira were armed, Eliseo Marubo, An Univaja’s lawyer, told investigators. Marubo said he received a message from Pereira as the journey was about to begin. Pereira was concerned about a meeting scheduled for June 5 with a local fisherman accused of illegal river fishing within indigenous lands. It “could become a problem,” he said.

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The men met an indigenous monitoring team, who reported that they had been in contact with fishermen. One of the witnesses said in an investigative report that one of the hunters pointed his rifle at the monitoring team, that the Federal Police sent it this week to the Supreme Court of Brazil.

Police accused Bellado of shooting earlier at a local base in Funai The Indigenous Affairs Agency that Pereira worked for.

Police arrested Costa de Oliveira shortly after the two men disappeared. They said they found blood on his boat and recovered ammunition in his home.

Gabriela Sa Pessoa from São Paulo contributed to this report.

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