Bodies of two men killed in Amazon returned to families as fourth suspect arrested

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The bodies of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira were handed over to their families on Thursday, nearly two and a half weeks after they were murdered in the Brazilian Amazon.

Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, were shot while returning from an expedition in the Javari Valley, a remote part of the rainforest.

Pereira’s funeral is scheduled for Friday in Recife, while Phillips’ family will hold a wake and cremation Sunday in Niteroi, near Rio de Janeiro.

Phillips’ widow Alessandra Sampaio has released a photo of her holding his wedding ring, which police found next to his body.

Also on Thursday, a fourth suspect turned himself in to a police station in Sao Paulo and told officers he was driving the boat chasing the two men, according to excerpts from his statement published by several Brazilian news outlets.

Gabriel Dantas, 26, said he was asked by the first suspect arrested, Amarildo Oliveira, to drive a boat without knowing where they were going or the reason for the trip.

When they reached the boat carrying Phillips and Pereira, Oliveira “shot them down with a 16-gauge rifle,” Dantas said.

After witnessing the murder of the two men, he is said to have then helped transport their bodies to where they were buried, with the help of other men.

On Monday, federal police said they had identified five other people who took part in hiding the bodies, while three suspects were arrested.

Phillips, the author of dozens of articles on the Amazon and a long-time contributor to The Guardian newspaper and other major news organizations, was traveling to the Javari Valley as part of research for a new book.

Pereira was his guide and had traveled with him earlier in 2018 to the area, which is plagued by drug trafficking and illegal gold mining and fishing.

(AFP)

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