Dom Philips and Bruno Pereira: Brazil accuses three men of murdering British journalist and indigenous expert

Amarildo da Cosa Oliveira, Autumna da Costa de Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima were charged with crimes committed in the Javari Valley, according to a statement released by federal prosecutors on Friday.

Veteran journalist Phillips and indigenous expert Pereira disappeared June 5 during a trip to the extreme western part of the state of Amazonas. Their deaths in a remote region have drawn worldwide attention to the dangers often faced by journalists and environmental activists in Brazil.

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

Amarildo and Jefferson allegedly confessed to the crime in June, and Amarildo led authorities to the bodies. However, Osini’s involvement was established by witness testimony, according to federal prosecutors.

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

“The motive for the murders was the fact that Bruno asked Dom to take a picture of the defendants’ boat,” it stated.

It is implied that Pereira was the target of the crime, and Philips “was killed just for being with Bruno” to “ensure impunity for a previous crime,” the statement said.

Philips and Pereira were doing research for a book project about conservation efforts in the region, which authorities have described as “difficult” and “dangerous” and is known to harbor illegal miners, loggers and international drug dealers.

They were last seen in the community of San Rafael, a two-hour boat ride from the city of Atalaya do Norte, after escorting an Indigenous Patrol on the Ithacuai River organized to prevent illegal fishermen and hunters from encroaching on Indigenous lands. Zhavari valley.

They have had reportedly received death threats just a few days before their disappearance.

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

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

CNN’s Camilo Rocha, Rodrigo Pedroso and Philip Wang contributed to the story.