Prosecutors charge 3 men over Amazon murders
Brussels, Jul 23: Public prosecutors in Brazil have charged three people with the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in the Amazon rainforest.
In a statement released on Friday, prosecutors said a federal court in Amazonas state accepted the charges against Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, and Jefferson da Silva Lima.
Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, were killed on their boat on the Itaquai River, while returning from an expedition in a remote region of the rainforest that is plagued by drug trafficking, illegal gold mining and fishing.
"Bruno was killed by three bullets, one in the back without any possibility of defense," said the statement. "Dom was killed simply because he was with Bruno, in order to ensure impunity for the previous crime."
Their disappearance on June 5 sparked an international outcry. Their remains were found in the jungle 10 days later.
'Frivolous' motive for the murders
Prosecutors said two of the three fishermen they charged have confessed to the murders.
An outspoken defender of Indigenous rights, Pereira had received multiple death threats prior to his murder. Pereira also had previous confrontations with the accused.
"What motivated the murders was the fact that Bruno had asked Dom to photograph the suspect's boat," said the statement.
Prosecutors described the motivation as "frivolous," a designation that can make sentences more severe under Brazilian law.
Phillips' wife, Alessandra Sampaio, said his family would pay close attention to the outcome of the investigation.
Some activists have blamed the killings on President Jair Bolsonaro for allowing commercial exploitation of the Amazon at the cost of the environment and law and order.