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Murders of Dom Phillips, Bruno Pereira: Brazil Says Drug Trafficker Killed Journalist, Activist

AFP

Last Updated: January 24, 2023, 11:39 IST

Manaus, Brazil

Brazilian police will indict Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, a Colombian fish trader, as the mastermind of murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and the indigenous specialist Bruno Pereira (Image: AP Photo)

Brazilian police will indict Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, a Colombian fish trader, as the mastermind of murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and the indigenous specialist Bruno Pereira (Image: AP Photo)

Ruben da Silva Villar, who uses the nickname "Colombia" and is in custody, is believed to have killed the journalist and the Indigenous activist

Police in Brazil have strong evidence that an alleged drug trafficker ordered the murders of a British journalist and an Indigenous activist in the Amazon last June, a police chief said on Monday.

Police believe Ruben da Silva Villar, who uses the nickname “Colombia" and is in custody, ordered the murders of the two men, Eduardo Fontes, chief of federal police in the Amazonas region, said at a news conference.

Fontes said the case over the murders of UK journalist Dom Phillips, 57, and Bruno Pereira, a 41-year-old Indigenous activist, was “90 percent" wrapped up and “practically closed."

“The investigations are in the final phase and we have strong evidence that point to ‘Colombia’ as the mastermind of these crimes," Fontes said.

Da Silva Villar has been in police custody since December, but his identity was difficult to pin down as he carried three sets of identity papers, two from Peru and one from Brazil, police said.

Authorities finally determined that he was born in Puerto Narino, Colombia, a town in an Amazon region near where the borders of Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet.

Phillips and Pereira were shot dead June 5 in Valle de Javari, a remote area where illegal fishing, mining and logging are rife.

Fontes said Villar had provided weapons and boats to three men accused of the actual murders, and later paid for the lawyer for one of them.

Phillips, a freelance journalist whose work had appeared in The Guardian and The New York Times, was traveling with Pereira doing research for a book on the Amazon.

Villar was detained in July, and freed in October on bond. But courts ordered his imprisonment again after he failed to meet conditions of his conditional freedom.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)
first published:January 24, 2023, 11:39 IST
last updated:January 24, 2023, 11:39 IST
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