Brazil police arrest 5 more over murder of British journalist in Amazon

Prosecutors say one suspect is the leader of an armed gang involved in illegal fishing

Demonstrators in Rio de Janeiro demand justice for the murder of Brazilian indigenous affairs expert Bruno Pereira and British reporter Dom Phillips. AFP
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Brazil's federal police on Saturday arrested five more men in an investigation into the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous affairs expert Bruno Pereira in the Amazon rainforest in June.

Police said seven arrest warrants were issued for illegal fishing in the Vale do Javari region, the remote area close to the border with Colombia and Peru where Phillips and Pereira disappeared on June 5.

The region has been invaded by illegal fishermen, loggers and gold miners. Police say it is a key drug trafficking route.

Phillips, a freelance reporter who wrote for The Guardian and The Washington Post, was conducting research for a book on the trip with Pereira, former head of isolated and recently contacted tribes at Funai, the federal indigenous affairs agency.

Two of the seven suspects were already under arrest: Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, known as Colombia, and fisherman Amarildo Costa de Oliveira, known as Pelado who was arrested in June as the primary suspect in the murder.

According to the police, Colombia could be the leader and financier of an armed criminal gang involved in illegal fishing.

Three of the newly arrested men, whose names were not revealed, are relatives of Mr de Oliveira and were involved in concealing the bodies of Phillips and Pereira, police said.

Pereira had previously clashed with Mr de Oliveira over illegal fishing within the indigenous territory.

Federal prosecutors said Phillips was murdered so that he could not identify Pereira's killers.

Updated: August 07, 2022, 8:36 AM