Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira: Brazilian former official indicted over murders

Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira: Brazilian former official indicted over murders

Police have indicted the former head of Brazil's Indigenous protection agency for his alleged role in the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips.
Police didn't identify the official, named as Marcelo Xavier by state media.

He was accused of "possible malice" for failing to act on information which police believe could have prevented Phillips' death.

Phillips and Brazilian indigenist Bruno Pereira were killed on a reporting trip in the Amazon rainforest last year.

Three men have separately been charged with carrying out the double homicide.

Pereira was accompanying Phillips, a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers including The Guardian and Washington Post, by boat through the Javari Valley near Brazil's border with Peru as part of Phillips' research for a book on conservation efforts in the Amazon.

The huge region is home to around 6,300 Indigenous people from more than 20 groups and is under threat from illegal loggers, miners and hunters.

The pair went missing on 5 June 2022 and their bodies were recovered 10 days later.

The latest development in the case saw federal police announce charges against the former president and former vice-president of Brazil's National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples (Funai) agency.

While authorities did not name the two officials, a number of media outlets including state broadcaster Agencia Brasil identified one ex-official as Mr Xavier.

They became aware at a meeting held in 2019, and through other documents, that the life of agency employees - such as Pereira - was at risk in lawless areas like the Javari Valley.

But they did not take the "necessary measures" to protect them, police said in a statement.

"In this way, they would have assumed the risk of the result of their omissions, which culminated in the double homicide," the force added, appearing to suggest Mr Xavier's failure to protect workers indirectly paved the way for the murders of Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41.

Pereira had previously been employed by Funai but was not at the time of his death.

His and Phillips' disappearance sparked a manhunt in the remote area of the rainforest, and a global outpouring of support for their safe return.

After their bodies were discovered and identified, police found the pair had been shot dead, burned and buried in the forest.

Three men were later charged with their murders - Amarildo Oliveira, his brother Oseney Oliveira and Jefferson Lima.

They are thought to have decided to kill the pair when Pereira asked Phillips to take a picture of their illegal fishing boat.

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