(Washington) The United States on Friday urged accountability for the double murder of a British journalist and a leading expert on indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon, hailing rainforest defenders at the same time .
US Foreign Ministry spokesman Ned Price offered condolences to the family of journalist Dom Phillips and that of his guide and expert Bruno Pereira, saying they had been “murdered for their support for the preservation of the rainforest and indigenous people there”.
“We call for accountability and justice. We must collectively step up our efforts to protect environmental defenders and journalists,” he said on Twitter.
The double murder was confirmed days after US President Joe Biden held an initial meeting with his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.
The expertise practiced on human remains found in the Amazon confirmed that they were indeed those of the British journalist Dom Phillips, who disappeared on June 5 in the company of the Brazilian expert Bruno Pereira, announced Friday the Federal Police which is investigating the double murder.
“This confirmation was possible thanks to an odontological examination” of the samples which were analyzed in a laboratory in Brasilia, the police said in a press release.
“Comprehensive identification work continues, to better understand the cause of death, the dynamics of the crime and the concealment of the corpses,” she added.
Earlier in the day, the police indicated that the elements available to them at this stage of the investigation led to believe “that the killers acted alone, without a sponsor, without a criminal organization behind the murders”.
The remains of Dom Phillips were found on Wednesday at the place indicated by one of the two arrested suspects, the fisherman Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, known as “Pelado”, who had confessed the day before to having buried the bodies.
The Union of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley (Univaja), whose members actively participated in the search, refuted the police version on Friday.
“There are not just two killers, but an organized group that planned the crime down to the smallest detail,” Univaja said in a statement.
The disappearance of the two men has revived criticism against the latter, accused of encouraging the invasions of Indian lands with his speeches in favor of the exploitation of the resources of the largest tropical forest in the world.
In an interview, the Brazilian head of state seemed to accuse the journalist and the expert of having undertaken an “irresponsible” trip to an area where the former was “frowned upon”.
The police responsible for elucidating the deaths of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira said Friday that this double murder had “no sponsor” from a “criminal organization”, a version disputed by an association of indigenous peoples.
Ally of former US President Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro nevertheless seemed cheerful after his meeting with Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last week.
During the meeting, Joe Biden expressed his concerns about climate change and deforestation in the Amazon.