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June 13, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:24am

Missing journalist Dom Phillips: Personal items found and family accept he is ‘no longer with us’

By Charlotte Tobitt

[UPDATE: Dom Phillips appears to be 16th UK journalist killed doing their job since 2000 as bodies reportedly found]

Update 13 June 2022: 

Personal items belonging to missing journalist Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, the expert accompanying him, have been found in Brazil.

Brazilian Federal Police said the objects uncovered on Saturday included a backpack and a pair of boots belonging to Phillips, as well as a health card, black pants, a black sandal and a pair of boots belonging to Pereira.

Reports also emerged on Saturday that police searching for the two men had discovered human matter in the Itaquai River, near Atalaia do Norte’s port, according to PA.

Authorities previously said blood found on a suspect’s boat had been sent for analysis.

Amarildo da Costa de Oliveira, 41, also known as Pelado, was earlier named as a suspect and arrested for allegedly carrying a firearm without a permit, a common practice in the region.

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Police did not clarify why he was being treated as a suspect but he is thought to have been among a group of men who threatened the missing men near an indigenous territory on Saturday 4 June.

Phillips’ wife and mother-in-law have said their hopes of finding him alive have faded.

In a statement on Instagram reported by The Guardian, Phillips’ mother-in-law Maria Lucia Farias Sampaio said, in a statement reposted by his wife Alessandra Sampaio, on Saturday: “They are no longer with us.

“Mother nature has snatched them away with a grateful embrace. The material has been undone and incorporated into the earth they so loved and respected.

“Their souls have joined those of so many others who gave their lives in defence of the rainforest and Indigenous peoples. Today they form part of an immense and pulsating vital energy that emanates from this immense greenery that is the heart of Brazil.”

Original story 10 June 2022:

Dom Phillips, the British journalist missing in Brazil, has been “lost doing the important job of investigative journalism” according to his sister.

Freelance journalist Phillips and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Araujo Pereira were last seen early on Sunday 5 June in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil near the border with Peru, having reportedly received threats in recent days from the logging and mining communities.

They were monitoring conflicts between the Amazon region’s indigenous people commercial interests operating in the area, according to Greenpeace.

Phillips is a well-known figure having reported for the likes of The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post from Brazil. In 2020 he was shortlisted in Press Gazette’s British Journalism Awards as part of a Bureau of Investigative Journalism team reporting on deforestation in the Amazon tied to the beef trade.

A crowdfunding page set up on Thursday for the families of Phillips and Araujo Pereira so they do not have to worry about money during this period raised $10,000 (£8,000) in just 15 hours.

On Friday morning it was reported that blood had been found in a boat belonging to one of the last men to see Phillips and Araujo Pereira alive, and that police are investigating whether the traces are human or animal. The man, a fisherman, was arrested.

On Thursday a vigil was held outside the Brazilian embassy in London attended by more than 50 people, including members of Phillips’ family and many journalists. They urged the Brazilian authorities to do more in the search for the pair.

In a statement, Phillips’ sister Sian Phillips (pictured) said: “We are here because Dom is missing, he is lost doing the important job of investigative journalism. We are here to make the point that why did it take so long for them to start the search for my brother and for Bruno. We want the search to carry on.”

Foreign Minister Vicky Ford said on Thursday night she had met Brazil’s justice and public security minister Anderson Torres, who is also in charge of the federal police, at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. She tweeted: “He assured me Brazilian authorities are doing all that can be done in air, boats & land in v difficult & remote terrain to find Dom & will keep searching. UK is ready to support operation.”

On Thursday a letter from more than 20 editors worldwide was sent to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro asking for search efforts to be stepped up.

It described Phillips as a “globally respected journalist with a deep love for Brazil and its people”, adding: “As editors and colleagues who have worked with Dom, we are now very concerned by reports from Brazil that search and rescue efforts so far have been minimally resourced, with national authorities slow to offer more than very limited assistance.”

The signatories of the letter included Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner, Observer editor Paul Webster, Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait, Bureau of Investigative Journalism chief executive and editor-in-chief Rozina Breen, Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf, AFP global news director Phil Chetwynd, Channel 4 News presenter and international editor Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Lindsey Hilsum, and Sunday Times chief foreign correspondent Christina Lamb.

Greenpeace’s UK executive director Pat Venditti has also written to the Brazilian Ambassador in London, saying: “We remain highly concerned by reports from local partners in Brazil and statements from the Brazilian military that all necessary federal and local resources, including personnel and aircraft, have not yet been mobilised

“I echo calls from indigenous organisations, journalists across the world, human rights and environmental civil society organisations in Brazil, the UK and beyond for the Brazilian Government to immediately mobilise all the necessary federal and local resources to find Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira.”

Picture: Chris J Ratcliffe/Greenpeace

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