Amazonas police make arrest in British reporter case
Brazilian authorities have arrested a suspect in the case of British journalist Dom Phillips and his local indigenous affairs expert friend Bruno Araújo Pereira who went missing in Amazonia earlier this week. Phillips and Araújo were last seen Sunday after leaving Sao Rafael in a boat on Sunday on their way to indigenous enclaves where they planned to collect materials for a future book.
While the Government of President Jair Bolsonaro is taking heavy flak from NGOs for its alleged negligence in the search, police in the state of Amazonas, announced Wednesday the arrest of a man believed to be involved in the case.
The suspect now in custody is Amarilo da Costa de Oliveira, alias Pelado, who had been seen by witnesses when he was in a boat behind that of Phillips and Araújo Pereira.
Costa de Oliveira was arrested at his home in Sao Gabriel, near Sao Rafael, where ammunition was seized. He has denied any link to the case.
Pelado ”said he saw when the boat that Bruno (Araújo Pereira) and Dom Phillips were riding passed in front of his community, he said he only had visual contact with them, local Police Commissioner Alex Perez told reporters. At least four other people were also interviewed as witnesses.
Phillips has lived in Brazil for 15 years, where he has reported on the Amazon and its native communities for the British newspaper The Guardian, to which he currently contributes, in addition to having had articles carried by The New York Times and The Washington Post.
The case gained international notoriety as Bolsonaro was headed for Los Angeles to attend the Summit of the Americas, where he is also expected to meet with US President Joseph Biden.
Indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara, who is already in the United States, has discussed the Phillips case with former US Secretary of State John Kerry, Biden’s envoy for Climate, whom she asked for help.
The NGO Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated Indigenous Peoples criticized the Bolsonaro administration for its lack of support in finding the missing pair, who disappeared in the Vale do Javarí jungle area accessible only by river or air, located in the western Amazon near the borders with Peru and Colombia.
Leonardo Lenin Santos, from the Observatory of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, affirmed this Wednesday that the government issued notes about a big operation in the region, but that is a lie, only 11 people from the Army arrived.
The ones who are really working are the Amazonas police, but they don’t have enough boats or fuel to rake a large area, Santos added. The indigenous people are the ones who are really carrying out the searches.”