Suspect confesses to killing of Brit journalist Dom Phillips as two brothers arrested

The search goes on for Phillips and his guide, as police admit they are treating the case as a homicide investigation

Published

At least one suspect in the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and his guide Bruno Pereira in Brazil's Amazon rainforest has confessed to killing and dismembering the men, according to reports.

The federal police had said in a statement earlier that they were still searching for Phillips and Pereira in what they described as a homicide investigation, following the arrest of two suspects in the case.

One of the two suspects confessed to police that they had killed Phillips and Pereira and gave the location of the bodies, CNN Brasil reported, citing police sources.

People take part in a vigil outside the Brazilian Embassy in London for Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira
People take part in a vigil outside the Brazilian Embassy in London for Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira
Police officers and rescue team conduct a search operation for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira
Police officers and rescue team conduct a search operation for British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira

Witnesses saw police take a masked and hooded man they described as a suspect out on the river where the men vanished.

Police did not comment on the reported confession.

The reports suggest a grim conclusion to a case that has raised global alarm, hanging over Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at a regional summit last week and stirring concern in the British Parliament on Wednesday.

Phillips, a freelance reporter who has written for the Guardian and the Washington Post, was doing research for a book on the trip with Pereira, a former head of isolated and recently contacted tribes at federal indigenous affairs agency Funai.

They were in a remote jungle area near the border with Colombia and Peru called the Javari Valley, which is home to the world's largest number of uncontacted indigenous people.

The region has been invaded by illegal fishermen, hunters, loggers, and miners, and police call it a key route for drug trafficking.

Police have arrested two suspects in the investigation: fisherman Amarildo da Costa, known as "Pelado," and his brother Oseney da Costa, 41, or "Dos Santos."

The brothers were seen meeting on the Itacoai river just moments after Phillips and Pereira passed by on June 5, a witness told police in a report.

Amarildo was arrested last week on weapons charges and is being held while police investigate his involvement in the case.

Oseney was taken into custody on Tuesday night.

The suspects' family have denied they had any role in the men's disappearance.

Public defenders representing the brothers could not immediately be reached for comment.