UK journalist’s death at Amazon was ‘collateral damage’ claims vice president – World News

British journalist Dom Phillips was killed as “collateral damage”, the Brazilian vice president said, in an alleged “drunk” attack on his travel partner Bruno Pereira

British journalist Dom Phillips died "collateral damage" said Brazil's Vice President
The death of British journalist Dom Phillips was “collateral damage,” said Brazil’s vice president

The death of British journalist Dom Phillips has been described by Brazil’s vice president as “collateral damage” during a “drunken” attack on his travel partner Bruno Pereira, an Indigenous expert.

The couple were reported missing on June 5 after traveling by boat through the Javari Valley, a remote region bordering Peru and Colombia, and an extensive police search resulted in the discovery of their bodies ten days later.

Mr Phillips, a freelance reporter who had written for the Guardian and Washington Post, was researching a book accompanied by Mr Pereira, a former senior official at the Funai federal agency for indigenous affairs.

Police said they died with hunting ammunition and their brutal killings shocked the world.

As the investigation continues with three people arrested, Brazil’s Vice President Hamilton Mourao said he believes Mr Phillips died because he was with Mr Pereira, who was the target of the killers.

Kamuu Dan Wapichana of the Wapichana tribe sings during a protest to demand justice for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira



“If someone ordered the crime, it’s a businessman in the area who feels offended, mainly by Bruno’s actions,” Mourao said.

“Not Dom’s. Dom became involved in this story. He was collateral damage.

“This is a crime, it happened in a moment, almost like an ambush. Something that has been brewing for some time, so to speak. In my estimation it must have happened on Sunday. On Sundays, on Saturdays people drink, they get drunk – the same thing happens here in the poorer areas, on the outskirts of the big cities.”

Mourao, the vice president of leader Jair Bolsonaro, who initially criticized Mr Phillips’ decision to go to the Amazon region where he died, did not say whether his comments were based on evidence.

Jeferson da Silva Lima, a third suspect in the murders, as he arrives for a hearing in Atalaia do Norte


AFP via Getty Images)

But he added that in Brazil’s big cities, “every weekend people get stabbed, shot, beaten and killed in the most cowardly way, and usually it’s a result of what? Alcohol. So that must have happened there.”

His comments drew an angry reaction from the Univaja organization, which represents indigenous peoples in Brazil and for which Mr. Pereira worked.

It said that Mourao had not given any thought to why Mr Pereira was attacked – because he had taken a stand against illegal activity in the area.

Univaja stated: “The Vice President ignores the fact that the police investigation indicates the existence of a criminal group organized to plunder the natural resources of the indigenous land of Vale do Javari.”

Police are investigating the boat used by Mr Pereira and Mr Phillips


AFP via Getty Images)

Police investigations have now led to a fisherman, who confessed his involvement in the murders, taking part in a police reconstruction of the crime.

Broadcast footage shows police officers leading Amarildo da Costa Oliveira downriver to where the murder took place and questioning him about what happened.

Costa said Mr Phillips and Mr Pereira had fallen out with Jeferson da Silva Lima, also a fisherman, who had fallen out with Mr Pereira over his efforts to combat illegal fishing.

Mr Pereira fought back after being shot at, Costa said, and he gave details of how the bodies were disposed of.

Police investigations are continuing.

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