A suspect has confessed to the killing of former Mixmag editor Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, the Guardian reports. The news follows an announcement on Wednesday 15th June that two men had been arrested in connection with the pair's disappearance.
One of the detainees, Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, reportedly took investigators to a location where human remains were found after admitting his part in the double killing. His brother, Oseney, was also arrested. The remains have yet to be formally identified, but are believed to be Phillips and Pereira, who were reported missing on 5th June after failing to return from a trip to a remote part of the western Brazilian Amazon known for its isolated communities, and illegal poaching, logging, and mining.
The announcement brings to an end a ten-day search operation involving army and navy teams, although the slow response from authorities has been widely criticised. In comparison, efforts from local Indigenous communities have been praised after rucksacks, clothing and personal items that likely belonged to the missing men were reported as found on Saturday.
Phillips, who edited Mixmag between 1993 and 1997, had been reporting on Brazil for around 15 years and was based in the city of Salvador. His writing largely focused on environmental issues, associated government corruption and organised crime, and the impact on Indigenous groups. Bylines regularly appeared in newspapers such as The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post and the Financial Times, and he had been working on a new book about sustainable development in the Amazon at the time of his disappearance.
Pereira had a long-standing history of fighting for the rights of Indigenous communities in Brazil, including a period in which he held a senior role with a state Indigenous foundation. He was removed from office late-2019 after launching an operation to destroy illegal mining operations, and took up a post with a rights organisation. There, he helped tribal members map territories in a bid to better protect them from invasive forces including drug traffickers and gangs acting on behalf of industrial interests. He had reportedly received numerous death threats over the course of many years.
A fundraiser has been launched to aid the families of Phillips and Pereira. You can donate here.