November 25, 2022

Brazil arrests 5 in connection with the murders of Phillips and Pereira

Read Time:2 Minute, 31 Second


(CNN) — Brazil’s Federal Police have arrested five more people in connection with the murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous affairs expert Bruno Pereira in June. The arrests were made in the towns of Atalaia do Norte and Benjamin Constant, both in the state of Amazonas, according to a Federal Police statement released on Saturday.

Three of the people arrested were allegedly involved in hiding the bodies of Phillips and Pereira, police said. Although they have not been formally charged, police said these are preventive arrests based on testimonies and evidence gathered by federal police as the investigation progresses. These people were identified as relatives of Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, also known as “Pelado”, who has been in police custody since June 8.

“Pelado” was charged with “double aggravated homicide and concealment of the body,” along with Oseney da Costa de Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima, according to a statement released last month by the federal prosecutor’s office. Amarildo and Jefferson allegedly confessed to the crime in June, and Oseney’s involvement was established through witness statements, according to the US attorney’s office. CNN does not know if they have legal representation.

Phillips and Pereira disappeared on June 5 during a trip to the western edge of Amazonas state. Their deaths in the remote region have drawn global attention to the dangers journalists and environmental activists often face in Brazil.

Police also identified the man known as alias “Colombia,” a Colombian citizen who they allege was carrying false documents, including Brazilian and Peruvian identification. This suspect has been in police custody for presenting false identity documents since July 8, but it was only on Saturday that police identified him as Rubén Darío da Silva Villar. CNN learned that da Silva Villar retained the services of Harygell Bruno de Araujo, a Brazilian lawyer based in Manaus, in the earlier phase of the investigation, but de Araujo told CNN that he was no longer helping da Silva Villar. .

At this time, it is unclear if Villar has legal representation.

What will happen to the book that Dom Phillips wrote? 0:48

CNN also contacted the Colombian Foreign Ministry to find out if da Silva Villar received consular assistance since his arrest, but a ministry spokesman declined to comment.

According to the police, there is strong evidence that Villar is the leader and sponsor of an armed criminal group involved in illegal fishing in the Javari Valley.

“There is strong evidence that alias Colombia is the leader of this association, because it provides equipment, materials and supplies to fishermen, and then buys fish and sells it to neighboring Peru and Colombia,” said Eduardo Fontes, chief of police. Federal in Amazonas, on Saturday to CNN Brasil, a CNN affiliate. Police also said that 10 search and seizure warrants were issued on Friday and that all those arrested are being investigated for association with aliases “Colombia.”



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