Authorities say the suspect confesses to the murders of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira

(CNN) – The Brazilian authorities reported, on Wednesday, during a press conference, that one of the suspects, who is being held, confessed to the killing of British journalist Dom Phillips and researcher Bruno Pereira in the Amazon region.

The Brazilian Federal Police has identified the suspect as Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira. Police say he confessed to the killings on Tuesday night and indicated where their bodies were buried. The next day, the suspect led the police to the site where Phillips and Araujo Pereira were killed.

According to the representative of the Federal Police, Eduardo Alexandre Fontes, when the police excavated the place where they found human remains, which will be sent to Brasilia for forensic analysis.

When asked why the assistance of Indigenous Peoples was not mentioned in the search expeditions, the Federal Police acknowledged it was wrong not to acknowledge the Indigenous contribution and said their work was “essential”.

The disappearance of Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira

It reads “Where are Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira?” She refers to the British journalist and Brazilian indigenous specialist who disappeared into the Amazon rainforest. The truck is parked in front of City Hall in Los Angeles, the city where the ninth Summit of the Americas is being held. (APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

Veteran reporter Dom Phillips and Brazilian researcher Bruno Araujo Pereira disappeared on June 5 during a trip through the Javari Valley in the far western state of Amazonas.

They were last seen in the community of São Rafael, a two-hour boat ride from the city of Atalaia do Norte, after escorting an indigenous patrol on the Itaquai River organized to prevent invasions by poachers and poachers on the land. Indigenous peoples in Javari valley.

On Tuesday, the police arrested a second suspect in connection with the missing men, according to a Federal Police press release. The first suspect was arrested last week.

Police said the second suspect, a 41-year-old man, is being questioned and will be referred to a custody hearing at the Municipal Court. They also said that some firearms cartridges and a pallet have been seized, and will be analyzed.

Phillips and Pereira were lost while conducting research for a book project on conservation efforts in the area, which authorities described as “complex” and “dangerous” and known to be home to illegal miners, timber loggers and international drug dealers.

According to reports, they had received death threats a few days before their disappearance.

Amazon journalist Dom Phillips Pereira has disappeared

Veteran foreign correspondent Dom Phillips (center) talks with two indigenous men in Aldeia Maloca Papiú, Roraima state, Brazil, November 16, 2019 (JOAO LAET / AFP via Getty Images)

His case has drawn global attention to the dangers that journalists and environmental activists often face in Brazil.

Between 2009 and 2019, more than 300 people were killed in Brazil amid disputes over land and resources in the Amazon, according to Human Rights Watch, citing figures from the Pastoral Land Commission, a nonprofit affiliated with the Catholic Church.

And in 2020, Global Witness ranked Brazil 4th most dangerous for environmental activism, based on documented killings of environmentalists. He said nearly three-quarters of such attacks in Brazil occurred in the Amazon region.

Phillips reported extensively on the most marginalized groups in Brazil and the devastation wrought by criminal actors in the Amazon.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has criticized the couple’s journey since their disappearance, saying in a YouTube interview before the suspect admitted Wednesday that Phillips and Pereira’s activities were “reckless” and suggesting that if they were “murdered”, the bodies would disappear into the Javari River.

With information from Camilo Rocha, Philip Wang, Cara Fox, Giuliana Koch, and Rodrigo Pedroso

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