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Brazil Police and Searchers Say No Bodies Found in Hunt for British Journalist

Reuters

Last Updated: June 13, 2022, 20:03 IST

ATALAIA DO NORTE (Brazil)

Police officers and rescue team members stand on a boat during the search operation for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who went missing while reporting in a remote and lawless part of the Amazon rainforest, near the border with Peru, in Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas state, Brazil, June 12, 2022. (REUTERS/Bruno Kelly)

Police officers and rescue team members stand on a boat during the search operation for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who went missing while reporting in a remote and lawless part of the Amazon rainforest, near the border with Peru, in Atalaia do Norte, Amazonas state, Brazil, June 12, 2022. (REUTERS/Bruno Kelly)

A federal police statement and a spokesman for local indigenous association UNIVAJA, which has organized search efforts since June 5, denied reports of two bodies turned up in the hunt

Brazilian police and indigenous search teams dismissed reports on Monday that they had found the bodies of a British reporter and a Brazilian indigenous expert, dashing hopes of a quick resolution in the week-old case.

On Sunday, police said search teams had found the belongings of freelance reporter Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, a former official at federal indigenous agency Funai, in a creek off the river where they were last seen on June 5.

However, a federal police statement and a spokesman for local indigenous association UNIVAJA, which has organized search efforts since June 5, denied subsequent reports of two bodies turned up in the hunt.

“I’ve spoken with the team in the field and it’s not true,” said Eliesio Marubo, a lawyer for UNIVAJA, which has organized search teams in the hunt for Phillips and Pereira. “The search goes on.”

The two men were on a reporting trip in the remote jungle area near the border with Peru and Colombia that is home to the world’s largest number of uncontacted indigenous people. The wild and lawless region has lured cocaine-smuggling gangs, along with illegal loggers, miners and hunters.

News of the pair’s disappearance resonated globally and environmentalists and human rights activists had urged Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to step up the search.

Bolsonaro, who last year faced tough questioning from Phillips at a news conference about weakening environmental law enforcement in Brazil, said last week that the two men “were on an adventure that is not recommended” and suggested that they could have been executed.

State police detectives involved in the investigation told Reuters they are focusing on poachers and illegal fisherman in the area, who clashed often with Pereira as he organized indigenous patrols of the local reservation.

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first published:June 13, 2022, 19:34 IST
last updated:June 13, 2022, 20:03 IST