Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira: Brazil has accused three men of killing a British journalist and indigenous expert

Amarildo da Cosa Oliveira, Osini da Costa de Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima have been tried as defendants with crimes committed in the Javari Valley, according to a statement released by the federal prosecutor’s office on Friday.

Veteran journalist Phillips and indigenous expert Pereira disappeared on June 5 during a trip to the far western part of the state of Amazonas. Their deaths in the remote region drew global attention to the risks that journalists and environmental activists often face in Brazil.

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

Amarildo and Jefferson allegedly confessed to the crime in June, and Amarildo led authorities to the bodies. However, Osini’s participation was proven through witness statements, according to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

“There have already been records of disputes between Bruno and Amarildo over poaching on indigenous lands,” the statement said.

She claimed that “the motive behind the murders was the fact that Bruno asked Dom to photograph the accused’s boat.”

The statement said Pereira was insinuating that she was the target of the crime, while Phillips was killed “just for being with Bruno” in order to “ensure impunity for the previous crime”.

Phillips and Pereira were conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts in the area, which authorities have described as “complex” and “dangerous” and known for harboring illegal miners, lumberjacks and international drug dealers.

They were last seen in the community of São Rafael, a two-hour boat ride from the city of Atalaia do Norte, after an Aboriginal patrol escort on the Itaquai River organized to prevent invasions of poachers and poachers into the land of the Javari Valley.

They reportedly received death threats just days before their disappearance.

Between 2009 and 2019, more than 300 people were killed in Brazil amid disputes over land and resources in the Amazon, according to Human Rights Watch, citing figures from the Pastoral Land Commission, a nonprofit affiliated with the Catholic Church.

And in 2020, Global Witness ranked Brazil the fourth most dangerous for environmental activism, based on documented killings of environmentalists. It added that nearly three-quarters of such attacks in Brazil occurred in the Amazon region.

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

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