Businessman 'ordered killing of British journalist Dom Phillips'

Brazilian police say they plan to indict a Colombian fish trader for his involvement in the murders

Brazilian indigenous people protest for the demarcation of indigenous land and over the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous affairs specialist Bruno Pereira, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. AFP
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A Colombian fish trader was the organiser of last year’s murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, Brazilian police said on Monday.

Federal police officials said Ruben Dario da Silva Villar provided the ammunition to kill the pair, made phone calls to the confessed killer before and after the crime, and paid for his lawyer.

Fisherman Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, nicknamed Pelado, confessed that he shot Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira and has been under arrest since soon after the killings in early June.

He and three other relatives are accused of taking part in the crime.

They live in an impoverished river community inside a federal agrarian reform settlement between the city of Atalaia do Norte and Javari Valley Indigenous Territory.

Mr Villar has denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Before Monday’s announcement, he was already being held on charges of using false Brazilian and Peruvian documents and leading an illegal fishing scheme.

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According to the investigation, he paid local fishermen to fish inside the Javari Valley Indigenous Territory.

Univaja, the local Indigenous association that employed Mr Pereira, said it believed there were other significant planners behind the killings who have not been arrested.

Mr Pereira and Mr Phillips were travelling in the remote area of the Amazon when they disappeared, and their bodies were recovered after the confessions.

Mr Phillips was conducting research for a book on how to save the world’s largest rainforest.

Updated: January 24, 2023, 12:07 AM