Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Monday that “human viscera were found floating in the river” during the search for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira, who disappeared a week ago in the Amazon.
Bolsonaro’s statements came amid conflicting announcements about the alleged discovery of two bodies, which generated great confusion about the case.
“The searches continue. But the indications lead us to believe that they did something evil with them, because human viscera have already been found floating in the river, which are in Brasilia to identify their DNA,” the president said during an interview with local radio.
“Because of the time that has passed, eight days now, it will be very difficult to find them alive. I pray to God that this happens, but the signs point in the opposite direction,” he added.
Earlier, Phillips’ family said they had been informed of the discovery of two bodies but were awaiting identification.
“We know they found two bodies but we are awaiting confirmation from the Federal Police as to whether they are the bodies of Dom and Bruno,” Dominique Davies, the journalist’s niece, told AFP in London.
But the Federal Police did not confirm the discovery of bodies and in a statement reiterated that apparently human remains and personal belongings of the disappeared, found in the previous days, were being analyzed.
Later, the Police pointed out that the results of these analyzes are expected “during this week.” Beatriz Matos, wife of indigenous activist Bruno Pereira, said on Twitter that the police confirmed “that no body was found.”
Phillips, 57, and Pereira, 41, were last seen on Sunday, June 5, while on a trip through the Javarí Valley region, in the extreme west of the state of Amazonas, on the border with Peru and Colombia.
The journalist, a contributor to the British newspaper The Guardian and author of dozens of reports on the Amazon, was preparing a book on environmental conservation and Pereira accompanied him as a guide through this remote region where drug traffickers, loggers and illegal fishermen operate.
The expert from the government agency for indigenous affairs (Funai) and an active defender of these communities had received threats from criminal groups that try to invade the protected lands to exploit their resources.
The authorities found on Sunday personal belongings of both, such as clothes, shoes and also Pereira’s health card.
According to firefighters, the belongings were found submerged near the house of the only suspect in the case, Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, arrested for possession of weapons and drugs.
But later witnesses said they saw him pass by in a speedboat in the same direction as Phillips and Pereira shortly before his disappearance.
A trace of blood was found on his boat, which is being analyzed along with the remains found.
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