Brazil police questioning suspect in Amazon disappearances

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian police announced Wednesday that they were questioning a suspect in a disappearance of a British journalist, and an Indigenous affairs official, who disappeared in a remote area of the Amazon rainforest three days ago.

Brazil police questioning suspect in Amazon disappearances

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian police announced Wednesday that they were questioning a suspect in a disappearance of a British journalist, and an Indigenous affairs official, who disappeared in a remote area of the Amazon rainforest three days ago.

The suspect was identified by Amazonas state civil police as 41-year old Amarildo de Costa de Oliveira, also known to "Pelado", who was arrested for carrying a firearm without a permit. This is a common practice in the region. The reason he was being treated as suspect by police is not clear.

According to an additional statement by the state's security secretariat, four other people have been questioned since the beginning of the investigation. According to it, no arrests have been made in connection with the disappearances.

Dom Phillips, a regular contributor to The Guardian newspaper, and Bruno Araujo Pereira (an employee of Brazilian Indigenous affairs agency with extensive knowledge in the region), were last seen in Sao Rafael early Sunday according to the Univaja association.

The two were threatened by a small group who traveled by river to the Indigenous territory boundary, brandishing firearms at a Univaja Patrol, Paulo Marubo, the president of the association, previously stated to The Associated Press. Phillips took pictures of the men, and Pelado was one among them, Marubo stated.

They were expected to return by boat to Atalaia Do Norte, which was nearby on Sunday morning. However, they never arrived.

Phillips, Pereira, and Phillips' relatives, as well as their peers, expressed concern that authorities were slow to begin and continue to search for the missing Indigenous leaders.

"The Brazilian state claims it has sent a large task force to the region. Eliesio Marubo was Univaja's legal adviser Tuesday and said that this is false. They promised they would fly a helicopter over the area today. It also didn't happen. It is now 4 p.m. The helicopter was supposed to arrive at 2. We continue our search.

After Univaja and federal public defender filed a request, Wednesday's federal court ordered authorities to provide more boats and helicopters.

In a statement Tuesday evening, the army's Amazon division stated that it had launched its first search-and-rescue operations Monday afternoon. This was just a day and half after the disappearance of the two soldiers. It also said that 150 military personnel had joined the operation. The helicopter was also in the area, but it had not yet arrived.

Phillips, 57 years old, has been reporting from Brazil for over a decade. He has been working with the Alicia Patterson Foundation on a book about the preservation of the Amazon. Alessandra Sampaio was Phillips' wife and recorded a video in which she pleaded with authorities to increase search efforts.

We still have hope of finding them. She said that even if I don’t find my love, they must still be found in the video she posted to Twitter.

Pereira worked in Javari Valley since the beginning for the Brazilian Indigenous Affairs Agency. Before he was let go, he managed their regional office and coordinated isolated Indigenous groups. He was threatened by poachers and illegal fishermen for years.

Multiple shootouts have occurred in Javari Valley between fishermen, hunters, and security officers. The area is home to the largest concentration of Indigenous peoples anywhere. It is also an important route for cocaine that was produced on the Peruvian border. The cocaine is then smuggled into Brazil to supply local communities or be shipped to Europe.

Tabatinga was the biggest city in the region when a Tabatinga employee of the Indigenous Affairs agency was gunned down in September 2019. The crime was never solved.

President Jair Bolsonaro was criticised Tuesday for describing the work of the two men as an "aventure."

"Really, only two people can be in a boat in such a wild area. It is not recommended. It could happen. He said that it could have been an accident or they could have died," he told SBT in an interview. We pray and thank God for their quick recovery. The armed forces are hard at work."

--

Maisonnave reported out of Manaus.

Yorum yapabilmek için üye girişi yapmanız gerekmektedir.

Üye değilseniz hemen üye olun veya giriş yapın.

NEXT NEWS