The murder of a British journalist has been charged


Police in Brazil have charged two more men over the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira.

Phillips and Pereira were shot dead a year ago as they were returning by boat from a reporting trip in the Amazon.

Police have accused one of the suspects, Rubén Villar, of being the mastermind behind the killing.

The man, who is also known as Côlombia, denied any links to the murder when he was first arrested last year.

Brazilian broadcaster TV Globo reported on Sunday that Rubén Villar and Jânio Freitas de Souza had been charged with murder and hiding the bodies of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips.

Bruno Pereira, 41, who had denounced illegal fishing in the region, was helping veteran journalist Dom Phillips, 57, with his research for a book on conservation efforts in the Amazon region.

According to the report by TV Globo’s Fantástico programme, Colombian national Rubén Villar ran an illegal fishing racket in the Javari Valley, a remote area near Brazil’s border with Peru and Colombia.

The other suspect charged last week, Jânio Freitas de Souza, is suspected of having worked for Rubén Villar’s criminal organisation. Both men are already in custody.

Rubén Villar was first arrested in July 2022 for allegedly giving false evidence to the police.

He shared a cell with Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, an illegal fisherman who police say has since confessed to killing Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips.

According to police documents seen by Fantástico reporters, police have audio recordings from inside the cell.

Police say that in the recordings, Rubén Villar can be heard warning his cell mate not to tell officers that it had been he, Rubén Villar, who had provided the ammunition used to kill the two men.

Prosecutors think that phone conversations held between Rubén Villar and Jânio Freitas de Souza on the day of the murder indicate that the crime was premeditated.

One of the last photographs taken of Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips shows them talking to Jânio Freitas de Souza in the riverside village of São Rafael.

Pereira, who tried to convince residents to stop illegal hunting and fishing, was well-known in these riverside communities and police think Rubén Villar’s illegal fishing racket was monitoring his activities.

Investigators suspect that on 5 June 2022, Jânio Freitas de Souza called Rubén Villar to alert him that Pereira and Phillip were setting off by boat from São Rafael.

Investigators believe that the two men were ambushed later that day by Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima, who police say have both admitted killing them.

Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira and Jefferson da Silva Lima are awaiting trial, as is Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira’s brother Oseney, who denies any links to the crime.

The remains of Phillips and Pereira were found 10 days after their disappearance. They had been shot dead, their bodies cut up and buried in the forest.

The crime caused outrage in Brazil and abroad, drawing attention to the criminal practices and lawlessness in remote areas such as the Javari Valley.

Commemorations to mark the first anniversary since their disappearance are being held on Monday.

Source: BBC